https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b8/Cheongnyangni_Station.jpg/600px-Cheongnyangni_Station.jpg

From an Internet Terminal (50 cents for 15 minutes) in Cheongnyangni Station in Seoul

I have been as busy and sick as a dog the last three days in preparation for the festival in Korea.  I finally finished cutting the trailer video for the project in Taiwan this fall after about 100 hours of work in the cutting room (See?  I can never be specific.  Just this last week as The Rocker and I were jetting around Japan on a quick promotional tour, we found out that there has been a major change in plans.  It is not a problem, but it has changed the concept of the show 180 degrees.  This is why I talk about projects as little as possible until opening day.  Special thanks to my good friend, The Clown, who instilled this idea in me early in my career.  Even the video concept changed at the last minute, but sometimes such destabilization can play to your advantage.).

To tell the truth, I am very happy with this video; I tried some new techniques, and it is about two times longer than the previous longest video I have ever cut.  The eclectic music presented special problems, but I think I was able to work around them all (Imagine trying to find a way to make Marilyn Manson, Pink Floyd, Nine Inch Nails, traditional Chinese drumming, an avant garde percussionist, Mongolian Buddhist chanting and Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ in a way that will make sense!  I hope to post some links soon.

For this trip, I have been writing old school style in my notebook every chance I get.  I met up with the daughter of my former German teacher and her friends in downtown Seoul and had drinks early into the morning.  I will transcribe some thoughts as time allows.

Travelling like this is really the best part of my life right now.  Tonight, The Political Scientist will be arriving as well; the special Lithuanian envoy to the Korean arts scene.

Off to Chuncheon!

Whirlwind Tour Part 5 – Boston Again

Now I am on the road.  It is strange driving across the continent.  Knowing that you have at least 20 hours of driving to do, and yet still, you have to be there before a certain time.  I need to figure out when I need to be at what place in order to make it to Boston on time.  I have no places to stay, just a lot of people I know.  At worst, I know I can make friends with someone at one of the places I am going and stay at their place.

It is pretty uneventful on the road.  I want to get into New York before I fall asleep for five hours, but I only make it to within 70 miles of the Ohio-Pensylvania border before I can not continue safely.  I curl up in my car in the parking lot of a gas station and sleep from 11:30 to 4:30.  Waking up, it’s time to go!  I make it to Pennsylvania and need to sleep for another hour.  now I am really worried I won’t make it to Boston on time, so it is 80 miles an hour for the rest of the trip.

Back to MIT, at the NASA lab, now.  I wanted to have a drink with my former boss and my former co-worker (once a grad student, now a doctor himself) but my co-worker is at Boston University for the day, and instead I see their secretary.  We talk all about life and art, etc, etc, science and travel.  Again, they seem to be really positive about the way I live my life.  Does no one understand that I have no money and no security and worry every day if I am going to live the next couple of months?

They say that whether I go into science or political science, I should be able to turn the last five years away from school into an asset.

My former boss is like 70 now, and he has retired, officially, like my dad will in a day or two, but he keeps coming into the lab to research the mysteries of the universe.  I guess when you look at it that way, you really don’t have a very difficult choice to make, do you?  his daughter is studying somethinhg called “public art” at Boston University.  I tell him she should contact me to see if there is something fun we can do together professionally.

They pay for my beer and it is time for them to go home.  They have shown me around the campus, the things that have changed.  It is nice to see.  The world has changed, and students have changed, and it is the teachers who need to keep up with them, not the other way around, as I had always thought.  Interesting to see it all from that perspective.

This walk down MIT’s infinite corridor last month was bittersweet in a way.  I was touched by how it has really remained relatively unchanged from the vision in my memory.  Even the students seem timeless, in a way.  as much 1976 as 1996 as 2006.  It is like that small core of a person that remains unaltered from infancy to adulthood – that charming part of a person.

I have to run to the dance studio for my former dance company’s gala event for investors and the like.  I have been sneaking into this studio for quite some time to take showers right after arriving in town when I have no place to stay.  When I show up, the dancers are all warming up, and I say my hellos to all the people I am supposed to before grabbing some wine to power up my shmoozing muscles.  Then I just sort of target the richest and most gullible looking people around the room to go and talk about how great a dance company this is and how supporting them really reflects on how great a person they must be as well…  ah to travel around the world, vicariously through a dance company.  You must be a real saint!

I sit through my dance company’s presentation.  They are working interactively with video.  Later, when its just us around, I tell them later that I thought 40 percent of it is really good and that the rest has really good potential.

After the persentation I talk to the video artist about the people I met in Montreal who are doing the same kind of things… he is a real MIT guy, so I soon get back to flirting with rich gay guys and old rich women; the best way I can help this dance company get money.  As the audience slowly files out, I keep on enjoying my wine and the cheese, and reminice with the people whom I actually danced with back in the day…

They ask if I can do a handstand now, drunk as I am.  I tell them the same old story; I have never been so drunk as to be unable to do a handstand or a backflip.  I prove it, and we turn the whole dance studio into the site of a drunken, impromptu acrobatics rehearsal.

Things are great, we talk and laugh and share the newest gossip.  I encourage them, try to get them to like me, I tell them that I’d like to be back in September to work with them, and try to make them excited about it…  if a person does make people like him, how does he know if they would have liked him without his help?  Does it matter?

Getting money at these events is telling people what they want to hear in a way they never expected to hear it.

I show up late at my Bulgarian friend’s house with a stolen wine bottle and a bagful of lifted cheese.  Americans don’t care about cheese, so they didn’t mind me taking it away.  It is some nice stuff… French brie….  soft cheddars…  smells nice.

We drink together, her a couple glasses, me just one or so because I am already almost on the floor.  Her roommate is asleep on the couch I am supposed to sleep on, so she invites me into her room.  She is Orthodox Christian, and is obviously uncomfortable doing this, but her instinct to be a good hostess takes over.  I lie on the floor, and she lies on the floor far away from me.  I am tired, jet lagged, as always, and she is telling me about her life and her boyfriend.  How she is unhappy with both…

I feel concious and I am replying the way I want to, but at a certain moment, I lost conciousness…  I am dreaming about what she is saying, but I sleep there, on the floor, under my jacket, for the whole night.  the roommate who had taken the place on the couch stole into her room and dropped a blanket on me.  It was nice of her.

In the morning, my friend wakes up to go to church, and I read for a while…  when she gets up, we conclude the discussion from the night before.  She doesn’t seem to mind that I fell asleep when she was talking to me.  If anything it put to rest her persistant fears (hopes?) that I was an evil player trying to take advantage of her kindness…

It was a real pleasure seeing my former acrobatics partner again.  Hearing her talk about her fatigue regarding romantic challenges against the backdrop of a lifestyle of constant travel was painful.  On the romantic end of things, I am sure that she’ll be able to work things out, and quickly, too, because I do not believe she are the kind of woman who is able to live in an unhappy situation for long.

The infinite travel side of things is a much more delicate one.

Personally, I think that once she finishes your work at MIT, she’ll have a drastically different view of everything.  For example, I can imagine that the quasi-stable situation of being a graduate student is what makes het travels so unpalateable to her now.  It is hard to see the liberating side of a wandering lifestyle until you are finally able to pull up all anchors and truly float where you mind and fortunes can take you.

Of course, I feel how deeply she is affected by living her life so geographically distant from her parents, and this is something that might never change, at least not for the immediate future.

So she continues her handstands and her research.  If a researcher’s life is destined to mirror her research, it was either a cosmic joke or a great blessing that she chose complexity itself as her personal field of expertise.

We go for coffee, and I invite her to the lunch that I called for all of my former college friends, citing the fact that I doubt anyone will actually show up…

She declines, saying she needs to work, and I show up at the restaurant; my favorite restaurant in Boston.  Chinese food.  It is very crowded, to my dismay, but I soon discover that it is crowded with old friends whom I have not seen in a million years!  We take several tables and I try to talk with everyone, but it is impossible to do!  After two hours or so, people need to go, and to my dismay there are still people I have barely even said hello to yet!  Catching up on everyones lives, who is married, who has kids…  I am Uncle Acrobat to them.  strange, and wonderful all at the same time.  I ate too little, spoke too much, and now my stomach hurts…

We leave such a wake of friends behind us in life, and it is so rare that we can manage a full loop and see them all again in an organic way; and unofficial way.  There are a million other people I would like to see, a million other things I would like to do, but I get invited to my friend’s house to play an old strategy game with a bunch of other friends.  We used to play all the time in the years after college, and it feels like old times.

What can I say?  The dynamic was special, and transported me to my early twenties.  I had a beer and sometimes just sat and smiled.  It felt nice.

I had to run to get sushi with my Bulgarian friend and her brother.  They are very smart, and the conversation was interesting.  About Bulgaria and Japan and America.  He had never had sushi before, but seemed to enjoy it ok.  I am getting tired, and have had a lot of sake; I say my farewells and head back to my friend’s house to see him and some other good friends for my last night on mainland USA.

We talk until 1am, I need to leave for Hawaii at 5 the next morning.  We talked about the gossip, about memories, funny pictures and events that I have missed.  About my friend’s death and his service, about what we are doing and want to do.  Everything just feels nice.  we aknowledge the fact that there is not nearly enough time to say and do all we want to, but that it has been great to see each other.  And it really has.  Sharing a drink with the two of them for our lost friend was a very important experience for me.  Being exactly one continent and one ocean away from the people who knew him best made it very difficult for me to share any immediacy in the mourning process and kept me from getting even the small amount of closure I needed after losing a friend I never really knew as well as I should have. One shot of whisky with my two best friends from college washed all that regret away.  They get me a lot of blankets and I sleep on a couch, happy, again.  I feel loved and missed; two things I never expected to feel.

At 8am the next morning, I am alone again, flying towards the tropical islands that are my familial home…

One week on the continent that felt like one strange day to me; a convention of ghosts from my pasts telling me all about who I was and have become.  It was strangely liberating; like giving voices to memories who have become mute and static in my mind…  to just open myself up completely to what all these people around me had to say and had never, for one reason or another, managed to tell me before.  Perhaps I had not been listening.

Next on the agenda:  Hawaii adventures!

Whirlwind Tour Part 2: Boston

So I managed to get through yesterday, which entitled waking up in Honolulu at 10AM, flying to Chicago (arrive 5:30AM local time the next day), and then continuing on to Boston (arriving 9:40AM local time) going to my dance company’s rehearsal and exploring the possibility of a month’s work with them if Taiwan is truly screwing me out of that fourth month of work; I’d be in there as acrobatic/circus consultant, co-director for a new piece.  Plus, they gave me the personal contact info on all the promoters for the Boston area.  ‘All’ of them amounts to a grand total of three, but it is a hell of a lot more managable than the millions in Tokyo.

Business in the arts is a very strange thing.  When I sit at home, depressed and alone, when I train in a corner of the gym, I feel like a failure; like I am skillless and useless in the world.  but as soon as I have a project; a CREATION project, I feel like I am really doing something that few people can do.  I can look at a piece, at a theme, at an artist, and just know what has to be done to make that piece, theme, or artist effectively move an audience…  but there is that important ingredient of the other people there.  All alone, I am like a waterwheel in the desert.

Then it was off to MIT to meet with my former acrobatics partner from Bulgaria.  Strange, strange, strange.  It is like looking into a mirror in which your image from six years ago is reflected and superimposed over what you now are.  It was very interesting talking about her studies (system complexity), a Balkan’s view of the United States, and Americans and MIT in general, culture, cultural norms… and all in the context of sitting there in America with Americans all around us…   we were able to switch back and forth from English to French to Spanish as the spirit moved us, and as the sentiment required.

In the end, we realized that six years ago, we really had nothing in common.  I was an ignorant American, and she was a culture-shocked Balkan in a new environment.  Oddly enough, six years later, we have travelled to the same countries, both learned French, both started drinking, and are both looking at our “successful” lives and realizing that we feel like we have nothing in our hands…  that our choices have not been choices so much, but improvisations from moment to moment, and we only see ahead to the next junction.

Something that my friends at the Tabata refugee camp can surely relate to.

I can’t stop thinking about The Model and her visa problems, and The Political Scientist and her visa silence…  my biggest fear is returning to an empty or emptier house…

I hope for the best every day, and think of them often!

I ran into an ex-girlfriend completely by chance in the hallway while looking for a bathroom.  Her first words to me: ‘You asshole!  I knew you’d do this!’

I guess she thought I was trying to be cute by not telling her I would be in town and then showing up unannounced at her lab.  later on, I’d realize the absurdity of this presumption, as though I would research the work address of a former lover just to hang outside and stalk her…  but then when I told her that it was just chance, a happy chance, she said that it was even worse.

But come on, we are not best friends, I have only so much free time this trip, and my main reason for coming was to talk about my friend’s death with my two closest friends in Boston and to meet a woman whom I never really got to know when I had the chance…  realistically, I could not contact every friend I ever had in boston and schedule 15 minute coffee-breaks with all of them…

Then it was to the gym where I trained with my former acro partner…  the last time we had trained, she was helping me get into circus school.  Needless to say, I had improved a bit, but we still had a good time.  She had not done acro since our last practice together six years ago, so I was helping her relearn a lot of her moves.

Then it was wine and Indian with her and her roommates.  I had a million things to talk about with her roommate from Hawaii, very introspective, talking about racial identity of the hopelessly mixed like us, the social structure and climate, good and bad, of the islands, old-time Hawaiian pop culture…  history, it was a good conversation.  the other roommate was a little overbearing in the American sense, talking about how her greek friend should stop worrying about her relationships and just change herself to fit with the guy she is with, that love is worth changing yourself for, and that the Eastern European marrying-for-the-right-reasons is too mental, akin to arranged marriages, and that her Greek friend should be able to adapt to the Hollywood romantic ideal of pushing yourself into the mold of a reltaionship.  I got tired quickly of this and smiled.  Finally, at 4am I went to sleep on the couch (9 pm hawaii time… 36 sleepless hours) only to wake up five hours later to drive my friend to class.

Two bottles of wine between the two of us, but consumed over 5 hours of good conversation with roommates, and I had my first allergic reaction to American Indian food a la what happens every time The Political Scientist takes me to an Indian restaurant in Tokyo!

I try to find a place to nap now, maybe get a haircut, something to eat.  It is strange being in America, my friends.  It is like walking around Disneyland after working backstage for years.  There is no magic left, or what magic that is present is too easily understood.

Business is good, company is good, and I feel busy… just the way I like it on vacation!

Whirlwind Tour Begins: Honolulu Part 1

It is raining like crazy here in Honolulu!

Lets’ see what I can cover in the 12 minutes and 15 seconds of time that came with a 2$ purchase of internet access here in the Honolulu airport.

One night in America with Americans is enough to remind me about what it is that is so strange about this place.

I guess that watching a TV program about horribly sheltered children who never leave the house gave me a good perspective from which to view the whole of the American culture.

That is what we/they are…

Sheltered children.

There is a fear about what lies outside, and working from the other direction, the illusion that the people in charge are working to keep things as safe as possible here on the inside.

You want freedom?  You want to believe that you are able to make your own choices?  To fail and suffer indignity if you fall?  jJust look at this nice backyard we have out there with the streams and the ponds and the wild flowers…  but lest you stray too far, need we remind you that the animals in that wooded grove over there are all too willing to prey on innocent victims like yourselves.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you!  But it is important to remeber that we are the ones best equipped to keep you safe, both here at home.  What?  You want to leave our complex here?  Just imagine the dangers that await!  There is nothing in our power to help you if you are to go astray there!  Isn’t there enough strife and misery here at home to satisfy your morbid curiosity?

Racial strife?  Have you seen those blacks and whites?  Don’t you remeber that Blacks are far more likely to live under the poverty level?  Isn’t that unjust?  Why do you need to look to places like Africa and India, the Philipines and the Middle East to find instances of real injustice and shame?  We have that all here!

Religious issues?  Is the historical divide between Jewish and Musilm, Protestant and Catholic not enough?  Some people in the same town refuse to eat with each other because of a simple religious difference.  Marriages that were never meant to be… and let’s not get into abortion!  Thank God we have a seperation of religion and state unlike in the Middle East!  We are a religeous smorgasbord of a country.  And we have the right to choose!

I put in another dollar.  What the hell.

And cultural diversity… remember that we are a melting pot.  And like any good melting pot, we force every potentially polarizing cultural influx to simmer and melt into the mean.  We want cultural sludge devoid of any sharp edges or tastes that might offend anyone else.  We’re not Europe, for Christ’s sake; how can those barbarians stand each other?  They make nice wine, though.  Just look at how our music reflects our diversity!  Rap music, rock music, alternative rock music, heavy metal, gangster rap, r&b, soul music!  Even that nice Lopez girl with her ethnic sound!  And our movies!  Anything you want!  Comedies, horror, action, romance!  We cover the whole spectrum, so you can be sure that there is not a single slice of the emotional spectrum of life missing from your silver screen!

Stay home.  Don’t call out.  Be safe…  we have enough danger here for you.  And if not, we’ll be sure to import enough to keep you safely on your toes.

I am glad to live with my two roommates in the Refugee Camp.  Discerning taste, class, fire inside.  I hope that they both see how much I enjoy living with them and how much I learn from it.  Missing them both already.  There are an infinity of people here who could use The Model’s style critiques…  another infinity who could use a sardonic barb from the depths of The Political Scientist’s irony well…  both of them live their lives with their eyes and hearts wide open, and with a fragility that insures that what happens outside is never so far from the inside that is living there.

Last night I wandered Waikiki with my ears to the streets.  Raining hard, I was just in a T-shirt and my brown courdorys, getting soaking wet in the warmth of the middle of the Pacific. Hawaii is so small you can really believe you are on a liferaft like in ‘The Life of Pi.’  The clouds and the waves pushing us wherever they will it.

On the way home, iI pick up some rum and coke for 7 dollars with the intention of getting a little drunk and then writing, but half a drink, and I pass out on the bed from the fatigue of jet lag.

I wake up in the morning, and pack everything up.  Drive on the freeway and remeber what it feels like to live on a Pacific island.  I remeber what it feels like to live in America, to be an American.  Hundreds of millions of bodies, two or three minds.

Political diversity!  We have that too!  Two political parties!  Enemies for two hundred years!  That’s division.  That’s diversity.

Roppongi Headbutt

Ah, a perfect night out with friends: a restaurant, a bar, karaoke, and a club.  Oh, and a short, brutal, and bizzare altercation on the steets of Roppongi.

Around 5am, we stumble out of the club and onto the streets of Roppongi.  Everyone has that post-dancing glow about them; that euphoria.  Eriko and Paul are planning to go to a karaoke together, the rest of us are going to share a taxi to the Yamanote-sen, when Paul and Gordon are accosted by two gents who seem friendly enough.  WARNING SIGN: one of them has a raised welt on the top of his forehead.  Typical drunken banter ensues:

‘Who are you guys meant to be?’

‘We can be whomever you want us to be!’

‘Can you be wrestlers?’

‘Please be wrestlers’

‘Where are you from?’

‘Scandinavia.  Norway.’

‘Norway’s got it going on!  Norway’s got it going on!’

Then: SMACK.

A quiet smack, a wet smack.  Concussive.   The shaved headed Scandinavian who now has two bruises on his forehead looks strangely puzzled and is restrained by the Norwegian.  I turn to my left, where Paul is standing with a stream of blood emanating from above his right eyebrow.  He is smiling; dazed.  Filipina hookers and Nigerian night club callers are surrounding him with concerned looks.  Some run off to get towels, ice.  Gordon is screaming at the Scandinavian:

“What the FUCK was that, man?  What the FUCK was that?  Walk away, asshole, just walk the fuck away.”

Gordon attacks the skinhead; he is restrained by, well, everyone.

Then: “He need a hospital.”

I think this Filipina is right. She is looking at me; concerned.  She would have told gordon, the more vocal member of our party, but he’s already running down the street.

It’s not just a cut, it’s a slice.  Deep, and the edges beginning to swell.  Paul wants to keep walking.  He is in shock.  He laughs at the idea.  To him it was just a little head-butt.  How can you go into shock from a little head-butt?  But then the spike of adrenaline fades, and he loses his legs.  We get him to a barrier.  He is shaking and pale.  I am worried about the combined effects of alchohol and shock.  I want him to lie down.  he says he is comfortable where he is.  Yuuko is gone.  I want him to go to a koban at least; he is going to need stitches, but he is refusing.  Where’s Gordon?  “Paul, can I get you to lie down?”  “I’m OK here.”  He is worried about his suit.  It is covered with blood.  Gordon comes back.   “I got him, man,” he is repeating over and over.  “You got him,” asks Paul?  “Yeah, man.  Two times.  Once here, and once over there.  Where’s yuuko?”  Yuuko comes back from the conbini with some bandages…  he needs more than that.  Someone suggests a hospital again.  Gordon refuses.  I say he needs a koban, at least; Gordon agrees, I go to look for one.

When I get back, the Guardian Angels are on the scene.  They manage some quick first aid, but they do not have any butterfly bands that will hold the cut closed.  The Angel that is bandaging Paul has shaking hands.  He touches the edges of the cut and hesitates, uneasy.

“Tabun, byoin ni itta hoo ga iin desu…” he mutters.

Paul has no insurance.  The Angels bandage him as best they can, a Turkish guy is explaining what he saw in Japanese to the leader of the Angels.  Just as they start bandaging paul, the Norwegian comes back.

Gordon takes a swing at him, and the Norwegian falls to the ground.  The Angels restrain them both, the Norwegian is in an arm lock on the ground.  head bent.

Gordon is screaming again:  “Where’s your friend, tough guy? Where’s you fucking friend?  I’ll kill you!”

The Norwegian is silent, restrained, pinned to the ground.  “I just came to apologize,” he says, palms up… eyes wide.  The Angels escort him a few meters away.  Gordon is hugging Paul.  Yuuko is crying.  Eriko has her head on paul’s shoulder…  the Norwegian is scared and held up against a wall by the Angels.  He does not understand their English or their Japanese.  I decide that I need to help the guy out.

If he had any malicious intent, there is no way he would have come up to Paul amidst a red-jacketed swarm of volunteer crowd control specialists.  The police are coming soon, I know, and I have not been impressed with the way Japanese police deal with foreigners, particularly foreigners that do not speak Japanese.  One misstep; one incorrect answer to a misunderstood question, and I know that the Norwegian’s holiday can take a litigatious turn.

I talk with him about what happened, and certain things become clear.  He did not know the attacker.  He was just walking him out of a bar to help him find a taxi as he had clearly been drinking too much.  They had met at the bar when they discovered that they were both Scandinavian.  Our Norwegian friend, now bearing the brunt of the responsibility, is of all things, a fucking pacifist.

His friends showed up, asking what had happened.  Their well-meaning, gentle friend is pinned to a brick wall by Japanese police and Guardian Angels and they are not allowed to approach him.  They get angry.  The Japanese police get tense.  I eye their batons nervously, and am worried things are going to get out of hand.  His friends to not seem to share his pacifistic tendencies, and they are getting irate.

I go to them to explain.  I tell them that it will take a bit of time, but that I don’t think their friend is going to be taken in.  They calm down a bit.  Say they will wait.  They wait.

The Angels and the cops are talking and I go back to the Norwegian.

“Maybe I should have let that guy keep hitting him,” he says, talking about Gordon’s revenge “but I didn’t want to see the violence.”

“You may have caused more trouble for yourself by coming back, my friend,” I say.

“I know.  but I wanted to apologise.  You can’t just head-butt a person cause you don’t like the way they look.  What is that about?”

The police are done.  The Angels are done.  I exchange emails with the Norwegian in case Paul or anyone need to get in touch with him later.  His friends are mad.  They didn’t trust the attacker at all because he was a Swede.

I offer to help them get a taxi, but they are OK.  His big friend is telling me how the Norwegians hate the Swedes because in 1939 they let Hitler march through their country into Scandinavia.  I have heard stories like this all my life.  The Chinese hate the Japanese because of blah blah blah.  The Dutch hate the Germans, the Lithuanians hate the Russians, the Quebecois hate the Anglos.  The Canadians hate the Americans, the Arabs hate the Jews…  same old song with infinite verses.

I used to think it was ridiculous.  A hold-over from a more violent time, but I have come to realize that it all stems from a basic element of human nature.  If an attack on a friend of couple months can incite violent anger in a borderline anarchist philosophy major, imagine what a blinding maelstrom of rage an attack on your family, culture and comrades can engender.

As members of varied cultures we are all more different than the current political model in the West suggests.  I think that the answer to the last generation’s question “Why can’t we all just get along” lies somewhere in that phenomenon.  The question is a false one, spurred by the notion that such a “we” exists.  It is a myth born out of the various social movements that swept the globe in the sixties and seventies and it is a legacy that we need to sweep from our eyes like so many other utopian dreams that have repeatedly poisoned our politics and history through the ages.

Letter Home From Japan

I am still in Tokyo.  It has been more than a year since setting foot back on this volcanic archipelago of my childhood.  In many ways, the Japan that I remeber has crumbled into the sea.  That Japan stays forever in my memory, but what remains – presently – before me, is a land of opportunity.  It is like my ‘wild west’ has shot far past California and the Polynesian islands to come full circle and rest here in the ever-renewing, ever-crumbling Land of the Rising Sun.

Here, I can be what I want to be.  I can be White or Asian, American or European.  I can be an Artist or a Businessman or a Scientist.  I can be young or old, exotic or commonplace…  whatever I say is what I am.

I am trying to produce this show.  Starting in June, I go to Taiwan to make a new circus show.  I am working with a director friend of mine as new project coordinator and assistant director.  I am trying to produce the Japanese leg of the tour.  We are also directing the first major modern circus festival in Asia.  We get to work with former classmates, cirque du soleil artists, and some of the biggest names in circus today.  I will finally be a “producer” with a company starting to making a name for itself.  I am brokering deals larger than any I ever imagined while living in a one-room apartment with two Lithuanian roommates and no shower.

I’m reading voraciously.  At least two books a week.  Science journals.  Social criticism.  Philosophy.  Novels.  I read in French, in English, in Japanese, anything to stay mentally active.

Most people aren’t as interesting as these opportunities are so I don’t lose to much time to social things.  The friends I do have are as close to me as they are different from each other.  Journalists, politicians, teachers, public relations experts.  They keep me moving in different circles from each other so the water around me cstays clean and swiftly-flowing.

I have my vices…  I like to drink, I drink a lot every couple of weeks, and I like flirting with women.  I’m liking it a lot more than I was liking having a girlfriend.  Every month, I find I need to spend money on a nice dinner and show to feel like (despite my less than luxurious living conditions) can still appreciate finer things from time to time.

I get job offers frequently for nice, stable jobs that I will not like.  Interviewing for such jobs helps me practice negotiation and learn for myself that business is all about convincing people that they need you, and then proving it.  It is about finding out what you are worth, knowing what you are worth, getting more, and then living up to it.

I am enjoying myself, but whenever I give myself a break, I get depressed.  A fifteen-minute break from the computer writing business emails or running from meeting to meeting makes me feel like I am building everything on a lie; that everything is escaping me.  I wake up in the middle of the night to edit publicity videos, to write web pages, to contact investors.  I am never alone from my thoughts.

This is why I love meeting people.  They provide the best way to escape my own head.  I simply enter theirs, care about what they care about, and learn about a world that is as alien as any extraterrestrial planet:  my world as seen by someone else.

I am forcing myself to take a break.  I will go to Hawaii and Minnesota at the end of March, and will only allow myself 3 business stops a week of no more than 4 hours each.  I will think of nothing, and write all the time.  I will climb mountains and hike rainforests and drive in lazy loops and piercing treks across the plains.  I will excersise outside and breathe clean air and smoke a cigar on the beach.

All this will come to an end.  If I accomplish what I truly hope to accomplish in the next two years, it is time for another change.  It is time for university; it is degree time.

I am sure that someday in my life I will grow up and settle down.  I am sure that someday I will find a way to keep my mind on one path, but for now, at age 28, there are so many mountains to climb and so many paths to take.

Science, art, business, politics, writing… who know what it all means and where it all leads.

At least I have moments, every couple of weeks or so; in the neon underbrush of Shibuya or the quiet, European streets lining the inside of the Yamanote loop… in Japanese lessons with the woman who has taught my father, sister, and me for almost 22 years…  biking through the rain, or drinking a fragrant, inky wine with a beautiful woman over a savory meal and spicy political discourse a quarter mile above the quiet chaos below…  when I can step outside of myself, my life, into the realm where I exist close to the people I love – my family – a place far removed from the four dimensions of everyday life.

Where your presence warms my spirit and moves my soul and makes me understand that wherever I go, whatever I do, I am not alone in the world.

I hope to make you all proud someday,

Your loving son and brother,

The Travelling Acrobat