Whirlwind Tour Part 4 – Minnesota

Oy yoi… so let’s see where we are.  The world has changed.  For the worse and for the better.

The terrible news obviously is that I am still reeling from the loss of 7500 dollars.  This is in no way a good thing.  It is because my expo pay was reduced by 20% to go to the Japanese government, but I was supposed to get a reciept for that money so that I could get a refund on my tax return.  Unfortunatly, that reciept is not forthcoming, and it looks like that money is lost forever.  on top of that, I had savings bonds that my family and I had calculated to be worth around 1000 dollars in the US, but when I cashed it, it was worth only around half that!  Put the two together, and I am 7500 dollars poorer coming back to Tokyo.  Sad things, but life is life, and this is the one I am living.  But The Rocker sent me an email that really cheered me up even though one of the grants he was after won’t be coming through, but I hope that something better will come in because of it.

Let’s leave that sadness and get up to date with these rambling gypsy-like travellings across the United States.

First of all, I love the life.  I love stopping into town to see a little cross section of what life is like there for just a couple of days and then zooming away in a weird zen-like state to the next port of call and absorbing that lifestyle for a little bit.

I wanted to meet with a friend of mine in Montreal for just an hour or so before leaving for Minnesota, but wouldn’t you know it, we started drinking and a lot of other friends showed up and we started talking about life and everything, and I didn’t leave Montreal until 9pm, about 3 hours later than I had planned to.

But it is fine, I love long road trips, night time doesn’t bother me, so off I go!

But I only get about one hour out of the city, just approaching the border from Quebec to Ontario, when I collapse.  I can’t go any farther.  I get off the highway and park in this huge housing development for rich people and sleep in my car in front of a big mansion.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work because I have no coat and no blanket and it is minus 10, so I drive to the worst looking hotel I can find and stay there for 50 dollars, and leave at 5am to get back on the road.  The rest of the trip is pretty uneventful, and it looks like I will get into Minneapolis to see my sister that evening, but it gets later and later, and I get hit with this fatigue again!  it is still way too cold to stay in the car, so I have to call my sister again to say that I will die if I try to drive for another four hours, and I find a nice hotel instead.

But the good news is that my sister is sounding really happy on the phone.  The last few times I had spoken with her she had been sounding down and depressed,  but she seems really happy and happy to see me soon!  This made me feel good.

So I sleep at another hotel (I feel like money just wants to jump out of my pocket!) and get up early to arrive in Minnesota around 11am.  Ah, Minnesota.  What a strange place.  I see my mom again, and no matter what, you turn right back into a kid, I think.  I said that I needed to do a little business, and I apologized, but I just quickly called all of the organizations I was supposed to meet with before heading into town with my mom to shop for underwear and deodorant (my mom’s idea.  strange.)

The weird thing is that my mom seemed to think that while I was working on the computer and everything, my email was totally there for her to read!  But at least she got to see me working and I think understands better the kind of work I do and that despite the fact that I am not getting paid right now, it is still hard work and very stressful!

But my mom announces that she knows I am very busy, but she has taken these three days off to be with me, so she will drive me around to all of the meetings I have to go to.  I told her that it seems weird that my mom will be driving me to my business meetings and that I don’t really want to walk into all these theaters and companies with my mom, so she says she will just wait in the car.  In the cold.  Reading.  I agree to this, but I am still confused about everything… is this normal in minnesota?

The first stop is seeing my dad at his company, which I have never seen.  My mom drives me there and then waits in the car, reading, as she told me she would do.  The secretary of the company sees her and says:

“What’s your mom doing in the car?”

“Waiting for me.”

“Invite her in!”

“She’s reading.  She’s happy.”

“I’m gonna go get her.”

“No, she’s ok.  She feels eccentric today.  If you invite her in she will feel robbed of that.”

“Well ok.  But we want to watch her!  Well, not watch her, but look at her.  See her.”

“…”

Is this normal in Minnesota?

All the secretaries crowd around me.  They keep asking me about my clown life.  Weird.

Then my dad comes out and there are hugs.  My dad says he will show me around.  The company is impressive.  There are employees and everything, and they treat him like he is the vice president, which I guess he is.  I find out he is retiring in two days, which I didn’t know.  He wants to go on a two-month road trip with his girlfriend with no desitination in mind.  Just to see north America.  I am like my dad in this way.

The visit is over, and I set up a coffee date with my dad, just my dad, that evening, and then head out to see my mom.  My dad sees her in the car.

“Was she waiting there the whole time?”

“Yeah.”

“It must have been cold.”

“She has a book.”

“She should have come in.”

“…I’ll see you tonight.  Bye.”

Then it is off to the theater to see my first ever acting teacher and director.  I am looking forward to seeing her, and a theater is big, so I hope my mom will come in instead of hiding in the car.  She comes in, pees, and goes back outside.  I hope that it is a good book.

They are rehearsing Romeo and Juliet on stage.  I don’t want to interrupt rehearsal, so I wait outside and listen to my teacher direct.  I imagine that she is talking to me, and I remember what it was like as a junior high and high school student, being directed like this…  how weird everything is.  I look through photo albums while I am waiting.  There are a lot of photos of me at different stages of my life.  In a lot of them, I recognize my clothes, but I do not remember the play or the class that I am in.  What did I learn?  What was I doing?  Who am I working with?  We look like such good friends…  I am old now.  A lot of the pictures make it look like I am good at what I am doing.  I wonder if I have let myself down.  It is impossible to ask the kid in the photos what he wanted from me.

I see my teacher after she finishes up rehearsal.  We decide that meeting for brunch tomorrow will not work out.  We are sad.  We talk about art and life and everything is nice.  She is proud of me; shows me off to the kids she was directing.  It is late and my mom drives to the front of the theater.  I guess she got cold.  Or she finished her book.  I say goodbye to my director and head over to my highschool girlfriend’s house where only her parents live.

It is a big house.  Maybe four levels.  I talk with her dad.  He tells me it is not to late to be a doctor.  He can help me get into Mayo Medical School.  I tell him that would be great.  I want to go back to grad school.  He asks me what I want to do and I explain generally.  He advises me to be more specific, and I can not.  He says I will need to be.  He tells me all about science and research now; how things are going downhill, how he is lucky to get funding still.  Other people are suffering.  I know that it is because he is the best at what he does.  Will I ever be able to claim such a thing for myself?  Will any of us?

I talk to his wife about life and her kids.  I feel like I am their age and we are talking about children together.  We open up a bottle of Black Swan red wine from Australia.  It is really, really good.  I drink a lot and get a little drunk.  I tell them how glad I am to have known them.  They tell me about their daughter and her finacee.

I tell them that I hope to see Fiji (her father’s birthplace) if I work in Asia for a while.  I want to see where he came from and learned how to be a doctor for less money than anyone could ever live on, then or today.  He would operate on you for free, and refuse a chicken in payment.  Maybe a couple of eggs at the end of the month.  Now he is the world’s best neurologist.  Fiji can make a man like that.  I want to see it.

Now I am really tired and drunk.  I go to a barbeque with my mom and we eat fast.  It is only 9:30pm but they are closing.  We eat in like 20 minutes.  Not a very relaxing meal, not what I have come to expect from converstaions over meals, but my mom is very happy.  I am supposed to meet my dad across the street in 40 minutes, so I go into the restaurant.  It is a perkins.  Like Denny’s in Japan, but all Western food.

I fall asleep on the bench waiting to be seated.  The waiters must think I am a weird drunk who wandered in off the street.  They ask if they can help me, but really like I need help.  I say I want a more comfortable place to sit.  And water.  I am waiting for my dad.  They bring me to a booth and bring me water and I sit, drink, and fall asleep.  When I wake up from time to time, I sometimes see a Cambodian waitress with no age who speaks Minnesotan English perfectly.  She has a poise that I admire, and I think that she is pretty.

One of those times I wake up I see my dad.  I can barely keep my eyes open.  I am not drunk any more, that is for sure, but I am tired, tired, tired.  We talk for a long time, about money, my sister, about work…  about my project.  He wants me to know he is proud of me…  I say that proud is not what I am looking for, I want him to be proudER, and I am not sure I can manage that.  My dad is drinking coffee and I am drinking water.  It is late, late, late.

In the end, I drive back to my mom’s house.  I can’t remeber anything about what happens.  I am supposed to meet her the next day for lunch at 12:00 at a greek restaurant where I will meet her new friend who turns out to be a really nice guy.

Before that, though, I wake up and run to all the small town theaters to try and pitch my project to them.  It is weird.  Like they have never thought of bringing an international show to this little town.  They probably haven’t.  I know it and knew it, but it was interesting to try to talk about the possibilities, to help them see the potential.

I feel like my friends in the Refugee Camp and I are all kicking our asses in Japan and feeling beat up because of it, but is important to know that any day we wanted to, we could go back home and be superstars.  Unfortunately, that could all too easily be the beginning of the end.  why keep trying when we can be so satisfied with where we are?

I print up some more little folders and then head across the street to my former high school to see if I can meet any teachers.  Only one of the three I wanted to see was free, and I met with her.  She was my german teacher.  She is from Bavaria.  Now she teaches math, and it is weird speaking to her in English.  I feel like I will lose points for it.  Her daughter is in Taiwan now, doing marketing or some such thing.  I should meet up with her when I am there.  I give her my email address to pass on and we talk about what I am doing, I ask her how she is, how she thinks about the kids in the school today.  How is school treating her.  Is she happy?  All through everything there are students in the class who are doing extra work.  They have lots of questions.  One gets yelled at for not doing her work early enough.  This is Minnesota education.  I never let myself be a part of it, and I see why.  We say our goodbyes, it was nice seeing each other again, and I walk back to my car.

I wonder if she actually remembered who I was.

Dinner with my mom’s friend.  We talk about America and the way America is seen by other countries, how I feel being back here and all that.  Dinner is nice.  Gyro sandwiches and calamari.  I thank him for being a good friend to my mother in what could be a very hard time for her, and later, she tells me that he found that I talk a lot and am passionate.  My breath smells now, and I need to drive to Minneapolis for business meetings.  My mom says her friend wants to adopt my sister and me.  I chew gum, and barely get there on time.

Actaully, I have 10 minutes and need to get coins for the parking meter, so I go into a coffee shop and have a coffee.  I talk with the girl behind the counter…  I ask her what she does.  this must not be her full-time job…  no, it is part time.  So what does she really do then?  What is her art?  She says she has no art, no passion.  But she has a friend who is an actor.  She is friendly and pretty, and nice to talk to.  After 8 minutes I leave to go to my meeting, putting coins in the meter as I go.

Business meeting… what can I say?  It is great.  Everything that doesn’t happen at a Japanese business meeting happens at this one.  He is excited by the project.  wants to know how he can help!  What are the details!  Can he come to Taiwan to see it?  Tell us how much money you need…  let’s make it happen.  I smile as I leave and put his card in my pocket.

I have some time and want to call some more theaters, so I go back to the coffee shop.  I feel like I am important when I make the phone calls.  not because I am, but just because I am a small enough to feel important by starting a phone call like:

“Hello, this is Travelling Acrobat in residence at the national theater of Taiwan calling about the potential for developing our project for a flagship tour in the Minneapolis/St Paul market.”

I am a fake, and I will pay for it someday.

Today I just pay for my juice.

I have 45 minutes to meet my ex for a drink.  She works right across the bridge and around the corner.  We meet and I have a Guiness.  I order nachos, but she eats them all.  We laugh a lot about a lot of things.  She will be married in a week or two, I guess.  She asks if I want to meet her fiancee that night.  I say no.  I said that it was strange talking to our teacher and her parents about her.  She knew it.  We have a history, I say.  That is what he says, she says.  It is time for me to go.

Next meeting is at a Minnesota circus school.  They make a lot of money but rarely leave the state, much less the country.  The owner thinks he could benefit from my project.  He is particularly proud that Cirque du Soleil wants to use his huge school as a training ground for their Cirque du Monde program.  “We are going to be where Cirque trains its coaches,” he beams proudly.  I’m concerned by the number of kids that seem to be taught by volunteer parents and how many are falling.  It is true that if they partner with us we are eligible for a lot more money in educational grants.  It is a sad, sad lie I live, sometimes.

So I head back into Rochester from the cities after the circus school…  it is 70 miles, about 90 minutes of a drive, and this fatigue started hitting me in the head again!  I am supposed to meet a high school friend of mine in the same restaurant where I met my dad the night before.  I get there a half an hour early and curl up in my car to sleep.  This is starting to feel more like a little apartment than a car, but at least I have a blanket in there with me now.

My friend is a high school teacher now, in creative writing.  She has the sweetest face, like a 14 year old’s, and a really dark attitude.  I think I told her that she exhibits an optimistic nihilism or something like that.

She has finished her first novel and is starting work on her second.  I am nervous to read her first one because when she started writing it five years ago she told me that there was a character based on me.  I am scared to find out what that character might be like.  She loves the romantic side of my life.  Somehow, the instability and insecurity of our nomadic lifestyles really appeals to her.

It is stange to have these people who live in houses and who hold steady jobs jealous of my crappy existance!  They love hearing about life in Tokyo with my Lithuanian roommates, about our bathtub with a gas water heater built in…

I guess I’m telling them about a world they have never known…. a parallel world right outside of the borders of their country, and they are transfixed; transported…  not sure they would ever venture out there to see it all for themselves.

What a strange thing to want the things we can have, but not want to go after them ourselves.

I finish late, and barely make it home without falling asleep on the road.  I was supposed to meet my dad and one of his badminton students at a restaurant, but time got away from me and by the end, I was barely concious.

Another night slides by…

And I am awake and heading up to the cities (Minneapolis and St Paul) once again, but this time to see my sister and meet her new girlfriend.

My mom is driving once again, and when we arrive, she says that my sister, her girlfriend, and myself should find a nice cafe and just park my mom at some diner somewhere to read her books and make phone calls for church.

We do that, and the three of us find a nice vegetarian and vegan cafe.  I want something called ‘mock tuna.’  It tastes like tuna but has no meat in it whatsoever.  I really like it.  Then I know from the swelling in my mouth that there must be nuts in it…  a delicious brush with death.  That is how I describe it to the waitress, who applauds my positive attitude towards dying.

My sister works in a bank and takes a lot of time off to fly around the country playing music for corporate events.  Her girlfriend is a 19-year-old college student in gay and lesbian issues and something else like sociology.  She is always smiling and laughing.  And gets excited a lot.  When she is excited, she sort of vibrates and shakes and smiles.

We talk about all the silly normal things like how they met, what she wants to do for a job… I drink vegan coffee with soy milk instead of cream.  Now it is time to take her to class.

We check in with my mom, who is making loud calls to her churchmates in a very leftist cafe.  I wonder if people are annoyed.  I drag my sister into the bathroom to look at us in the mirror.  we look very similar.  Moreso every year, I think.

We leave my mom again and print up some more materials for the meeting that my mom says she scheduled with me for the Guthrie Theater.  I have been using her cell phone, and the guy I wanted to meet called while she had it on her.  She pretended to be my secretary, I guess.  My mom is being my chauffeur and my secretary.

Beforehand, I go to another cafe, this time, just with my sister.  we look at women together.  It is interesting that I find ordinary Minnesota women exotic looking now after being away for six years.  My sister finds them boring.  We talk about us, about each other, about our relationship.  About our parents and their friends.  She tells me that she has always been envious of me; that I can do everything and never fail.  That I will take a chance, that I am never afraid to look foolish.  That people believe me when I say things, that I am so sure of myself.  I tell her that I am not sure that everything she is saying about me is true.  I explain that the trick is to be the best at something and the worst at something at every step of your life.  That is what increases your comfort level.  I tell her that she should assert herself more, that she has real creative potential, but that she is locked inside.  She sort of agrees.

She drives me to my meeting and then goes to pick up my mom.  This meeting is in one of the world’s newest theater buildings, and quite possibly one of the largest.  It is not open yet, won’t be until June, but I get the full tour from a guy named James Morrison.  This is a beautiful theater.  I want to play here.  I want to live here.  At least, get really drunk here.

Perfectly designed for the director, performer, technician, and audience member alike.  It is a pleasure to see such a temple to the performing arts.

James loves this project; wants to make it a priority for himself this fall.  Wants to see it travel across the USA.  We meet for an hour, and by the end I am smiling.

My mom and sister pick me up; they have bought me a bubble tea.  My mom tells me that the woman behind her in line lived in Japan.  When my mom said that her son lives in Japan, the lady’s first guess was that I was teaching English.  My mom is so proud to say “No.  He is a show producer!”  Oh the shame of a successful lie.  When the woman finds out that I do circus and that I had been to the Minnesota circus school the day before, she tells my mom that her kids studied at that school, but that she didn’t like it.  My mom told her that I had visited and that I wasn’t sure myself.

I blew up at my mom.  I am very mad.  She is sorry.  I tell her not to tell people anything about what I say.  OK, fine, she can say what I do, but don’t mention the names of any organizations or what they told me.

Silence.

I say I’m sorry.

Maybe I was a little too dramatic.

But she needs to be careful!  She says she will be.

I know she won’t.

But it’s OK.  She’s my mom.

We get my sister some new glasses and then we go to my Aunt and Uncle’s house.  She is a teacher too.  My uncle is recovering from recent surgery.

I run by all the things I talked about with my friend heather about teaching the new generation of American students; kids who have lived their whole lives in the era of the internet.  It is truly a different world, and the kids are far more difficult to teach, I guess.  At least by the old methods, so they are trying to find new methods to teach that resemble the pace and colorfulness of television and the internet.

My aunt seems to have a very global view of the United States as seen be the rest of the world.

Now, it is off to a Mongolian barbecue where the whole family eats.  It is uneventful, but I sit next to my sister and look at her proudly throughout the whole night.  I wish I could help her with her dream to get away from this city and state.  We pose for pictures at the end of the meal.  At the end, my family tries to recreate a photo that we had taken 16 years ago.  We do a pretty good job, I think.

Before driving back home to go to bed for my last time in Minnesota for a while, I hang out with my sister at her apartment.  We see her band, I look at pictures of her, talk to her and her girlfriend and play with her cats.  I take pictures of them, and say I am glad to have made a new friend.  This makes her vibrate and shake with happiness.  I download some music onto my ipod from my sister’s computer, have my picture taken with her, and head back to my mom’s house one last time.

The next morning, my mom let’s me log in to her computer to write to my friends in Boston to tell them that I am coming.  The Political Scientist logs on from Tokyo, and I get to chat with her.  It is nice.  I have been missing that girl so much, but I feel like I will see her so soon, everything seems unreal. I am fatigued and jet lagged and depressed and excited, all at once!

Finally, I am off.  It makes me sad to see the colored paper signs that my mom has hung up on her garage door that spell out “Welcome home, Travelling Acrobat!”  I have only been home two and a half days.  I don’t deserve to make people that happy just by showing up.  I pull out of the driveway and start the long trek to Boston.

 

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.

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!

Fatigue

Things here have been crazy, and complicated.  My life has not been as productive, especially from the creative point of view, as I wish that it could have been for a lot of reasons.

For example, I still haven’t been able to get back to writing.  I want to, but for some reason, I feel like I need to wait for something more – like if I write now I will look back on it years later and just feel like I was wasting my time for not seeing things more clearly!

It’s weird.  In a way, in all the things I create, I see a trend to use less and less.  my writing becomes starker, my choreographies become simpler, my music becomes less cluttered…

A perfectly straight and rigid blade extending to the horizon, organic, imperfect, simple simplicity.  No words to describe it other than “it is” but only understandable be people seeing it for themselves.  All artists see it from times to time; something so beautiful that it puts tears on your cheeks before they even have a chance to wet your eyes.  when emotion sucks the breath out of your rib cage in a short burst, or when you see so deeply into the night sky that you see something that you never saw before.

Did you know that there is a structure to the darkest part of the night sky?  I remember peering through a telescope at it as a child.  It was velvet on my eyes, like the skin of a sea cucumber in my hands on a small volcanic island off the coast of Japan as an awkward 13-year old with big glasses, no girlfriend, and ill-fitting, too-bright synthetic-fibered clothes.  This ugly lump of flesh, this specimen of divine design.  A simple little sea creature with the night sky for a coat; I felt like I was touching heaven.

The perfumed fuzz on the cheek of a woman sitting next to you dangling her bare feet in a rapidly flowing desert stream –her touch enough to send you sprawling backwards and upwards into the pastel collage of cobalt blue and black moleskin that pulled your brain out through your eyes as a child to send it back to you, twenty-two years later with a question that is its own response, wondering what you might have discovered today and what might turn you upsidedowncrazy tomorrow…

I start to think that all the women who have ever been in my life are just phantoms of the same one, all haunted by the spirit of themselves, and are cursed by the fact that I’ve known them all before…

Funny how the words that start a relationship off are so often reflected right back the other way at the end.

I feel a patina of grey just kissing the color that could have been had I just let things in more, or less, or had just made a decision between the two.

Fatigue.

Things that used to seem so clear now are all turned in on themselves like the valves of a heart.

I can’t even seduce a woman, anymore.  I smile to say “imagine I could say all the right things… would you?”  and they would.  I guess they are tired too.

Ah, but there are still those moments from time to time, those fleeting ribbons of red racing past my temples when I’m distracted by something else…

A Waste of Two Months

I’m trying not to get depressed about my long-distance relationship with The Contortionist.  I tell myself that things just happen the way they happen, and it is fruitless to try and control them.

Things are tough with her right now – it’s easier for me to deal with distance than it is for her.  I get really lost in my work; I need to keep going with these projects, and for now that means I am in Tokyo 100%.  It feels like she has pressure to be with people who are on tour with her.

The Contortionist asks how things are going outside of work.  Well, there is no “outside of work,” and that means that everything sucks.  Today I had a really depressing meeting with another producer friend of mine…  I’m basically about to give up on everything in Japan.  I am looking to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.

It feels like The Contortionist is saying goodbye to me as a boyfriend but maybe everything in my life just looks really dark to me right now.

Sometimes, I wish we would just forget about everything, and other times, I wish that we could just go back to the way things were in circus school…

I am at a new low in my life, feeling really alone.

Lethargy And Paralysis

Lethargy has become the rule of the road for me now.  What road?  The road that winds me through the life that I no longer feel in control of.  I am lost now, and free at the same time.  I feel and see my body wasting away, unfed by the nutrients or the exercise that they are so used to.  At the same time, what it has for the first time in many years, is rest.  But it is so frustrating to see the work that went into keeping my body in shape to do what it needed to do, and to see that after just a bit of loss of focus, it can fall around me like a suit that fits too loosely…

The answer, of course, is fanatical dedication to a new regimen, one that dictates fatigue as being roughly necessary to the process of improvement.

And where, in all of this, does the notion of fairness or honesty to the people around me, specifically, those people who care about me or who wonder where I have disappeared to, what it is that I am doing?  Where is the idea of a narrative, of a character?  How do we know if we have an idea of genius or just one of stark convenience… maybe no one has ever done something like this simply because the idea is too damned pedestrian; too damned boring.

So this is my pledge to myself…

I will be at the gym for 4 hours a day, starting tomorrow.  I will leave the house before noon in order to do it.

I will email everyone on my list.

I will take this as a profound and deep failure on my part if I am unable to carry out these simple pledges to myself.

There will be no game-playing, there will be no wasting of time.  I will eat when I am not hungry, and I will drink when I am not thirsty.  I will take my vitamins, and I will write three thousand words a day because I claim to be an artist, an acrobat, and I need to take such things seriously!

Perhaps it is time to put things into perspective, perhaps it is time to take matters in hand.

I will be tired, I will be unhappy, and I will be bored, but I will have some sense of necessity in my life.

I remember being at a Famous Amos stand in the subway mall of Taipei and hearing a perhaps over-enthusiastic manager of the tiny cart remarking to my companion something about something that made her mention the fact that she had lived in Africa.  He says that life is simple there.  She says, “Yeah, real simple.  People’s kids dying all the time…”  he doesn’t understand her English.  He pauses.  He smiles and says in Taiwan, people have lots of heart attacks.  She seems to see his point.  I don’t.  but I don’t see hers either.

I agree that the world is a messed-up place, and I am the first agree that we need to do something about it, but at the same time, I think that we need to accept these little injustices without drama for the time being.  People die more in some countries than other.  Of course, looking at these things from a humanistic perspective gives us a lot of pause, but at the same time, we need to have the option, and only the option, of looking at it in a more detached way.

I need to write an email to The Contortionist now, and in it I need to include a white lie.  It is about why I did not email her last night as I am trying to email her every night.  I will tell her that my roommate suddenly fell ill and my other roommate and I had to take her to the doctor’s office.  That is not a lie, that is really quite true, but we did that in the morning.  The evening, she was still healthy, and we engaged in wine drinking and general revelry until the wee hours, and that was why I did not email my girlfriend.

I don’t know exactly what it takes to have a girlfriend in the world any more, at least when you are living outside the norms of a regular address, a phone that works, and a group of friends that you can disappear into.  Will I miss this instability if I am ever to actually sit down and have a more stable life?  Will that life be just as stifling and soul-killing as this one is feeling for me?  Maybe the world itself is a stifling one, and this sense of despair that I am feeling is just some sort of metaphysical entropy, and it is exactly this sort of decay that we need to steel ourselves against to keep living as “beings,” and not as “beens.”

I want to meet my future head-on, standing straight and tall against the winds, not feeling like I need to destroy the city of Tokyo with an earthquake just to feel better about my writing.

What are the balls that are in the air right now?  A modelling agency that is not responding to my numerous emails, a job from Adco that may or may not have me exploring the corporate side of entertainment, a job offer from a man that I met at a Lithuanian film festival who may or may not be interested in engaging me in a job that has me once again performing acrobatics for Toyota, of all possible clients…  I have my number itself, which comes and goes in terms of how viable it seems, I have a possible grant which can take me possibly to Mongolia, to Bulgaria, to Lithuania, if my contact there ever decides to write me back.  I have the idea to teach something at my old university, but so many of these little attempts keep coming back faced with a wall of white, insurmountable silence.  Silence in the form of unanswered emails.   Makes me realize exactly why people need phones and face to face in the real world these day.

I need to make handstand blocks, I need to make new DVD’s I need to write emails, I need to train, I need to feel a zest for life and to feel that sort of poetic cloud that can sometimes well up and swallow my head whole.

I think that it comes from new environments, though, and what are my new environments now?  There seem to be none.

Handstands, ironically enough, is a discipline that requires stability in more ways that simply on your hands, inverted.  We also need the structure in our lives to fit in a bit of training here or there.  Once the number exists, we can run through it once a day in an hour, given that we have the space and the discipline, but once the technique falls by the wayside, you are trying to work your way up a hill… I guess I really need to focus my training now on the number and them concern myself with training later.

This is the way to go, I guess.

But god, it would be nice to look at myself in a mirror naked again and like what I see.  What I see right now is mediocracy at best.

I feel forgotten, like a rocket that burned brightly, arcing over a hill where no one can see it anymore, and even less people care.  I like the notion of a journey, and I like certain images in my writing, but in the end if I cannot harness it all into a tale of some sort, if I cannot craft what I am writing into a format that someone else would want to read, I am lost.  Floating in space.

Titan

The Heartbeat of Worlds

It was a usual day in almost every aspect except for what was missing.  There was an absence of a crashing roar that I had come to take for granted after a lifetime of living next to the sea.

“How long has it been like this?” the man asked me.

As well as I could remember the ocean had been functioning as normal the night before.  Wave after wave came crashing in, spraying a salty mist which coated everything in front of the churning gray organic stew with a sound that, above everything else, I what I had come to know as the sound of the earth itself.  Its breathing, its pulsing…  if the earth was a living object, then surely, the ocean is one of its vital signs.  Falling asleep, waves breaking at the base of sheer cliffs far below; whispered secrets of a forgotten past.

The assholes who had culled in the power of the ocean and that had choked it with an onslaught of silty poison…  the fish that smothered and suffered under the weight of countless belching smokestacks.

I am the horizon, I am unreachable.  Take four footsteps forwards and I will always be there, four steps further away from you.

We are on a journey that will take us to places that we cannot even imagine.  The journey can never end until we are told that it is over.  What are we walking towards?  What are we expected to do?

I think of a woman; I dream of her – obsess, even.  Men sense their own baseness, and we idealize and idolize “woman” as a vision of unobtainable heaven, one that can deliver us from all pain.  It is a curse.

It is a woman that I am dreaming about when the idea of the trip first enters my mind.

…so we cut ourselves free from this life.  We, the students of science, of philosophy, history, dying, impotent disciplines, in this poisoned environment.  Academia stifles itself.

The present never pleases me until years later when today’s present is cruelly revealed as the finest time of my life: never had I been more handsome, more charming; never were my friends so exciting and so stimulating as they were in yesteryear’s “today.”  Sometimes the only way to get through today is to see how it will seem a few years from now.

The trip took from what we feared and cast us into utter freedom.  We had no support, everything was thrown to chance.

I was not happy with my studies, I was not happy with my life, I was not happy with my parents’ relationship, the only yardstick for my own which had just fallen apart.  It was like the ground opened up behind me and I knew that it was time to leave.

I despised drama, always had, and never meant for my life to become one.  I had never meant to do anything important, I simply needed to be free do what I was doing, finding meaning could come later.

I went to my last class not long thereafter, the image of the woman still fresh in my mind, but at the same time absent, like a memory stained by a perfume or a poison.

I am lost when I try to see the world poetically. All the “things” get in the way, and the best I can do is to try to juxtapose those objects in pretty ways.  My first step was to go to a place that I had never meant to go.  I wanted to see a desert, I wanted to see an ocean, I wanted to learn how to pump gas, I wanted to know which fork to use, I wanted to graduate, I wanted to have a good job, I wanted to be able to support myself, I wanted to stop wanting so much.

It is a way to get around, to go faster and faster through the routine until acceleration lifts you out of your orbit.  Nothing is predetermined, I know that now, though I could have never convinced myself of it before my parents left each other.

Finding meaning in life is a trap; nothing means anything – I’m certain of that – but I still don’t know what it means.

Muscles and veins and nerves and bones make a man, and this one has a desire for a woman that is so strong that I can taste it.

On the road and free again, I’ll never know what is actually happening and what is just remembered.

I feel like I am in a hospital.  The room is taller than it is wide or long.  I feel like I am in a hospital because of the way the sheets feel starched under my naked ass.  I feel a dull aching, like I had had too much to drink, and my throat feels raw, like I’ve swallowed a pinecone.

Since when did explanations have to be good, I wondered.  Explanations just tie observable actions to motivations, and no one motivation can be any better than the other.

I am not sure how I got here, of why I need to be here.

I know that I am injured, my joints seem so stiff… my mind is too cloudy.  I feel as though I might be missing fingers.

I know that I can fight, that I will not stop defending myself.  I get angry and when I do, I don’t back down.  It’s been that way since I was a kid.  Today, I want to look civilized and demure with the veneer of a gentleman able to pass through an airport without enduring random security checks.  I like having the illusion that accomplishments are somehow a suitable mask for the weak and ugly person that hides beneath.

Schooling is perhaps a way to mask our inability to deal with the real weaknesses lurking directly beneath the surface.

Now I admit that there is no science in art and that there is no art in science.  A person cannot live always inside of themselves.

When the Japanese first started to import foreign literature, Western translators discovered that no Japanese word mapped well to the western concept of love.

Imagine a whole island full of people living for thousands of years with no spoken way to describe an abstract feeling that in the meantime had become a central aspect of European culture.

I want to be in the crux of a y, I want to be there the moment that the ocean stops beating.

Ocean waves are the earth’s heartbeat.  On the day that it stops beating I want to be on the beach looking out over the glassy expanse with a flat stone in my hand.

I want to be there on the day that the earth dies, sending out a shuddering sigh that shakes all of our cities to the ground.

I want to understand all the things that I never have.

There are always two rivers flowing through the minds of men.  One is flows in the direction that they are meant to go in and the other is flows in its own direction.  There is no place for insanity in a disordered world.

Who knows what I am meant to do in my life?

Not me; otherwise I would have done something about it by now.

I want everything but can do nothing.

I am living a world of the mind an don’t even know what I want to say.

I do know however, that I was sitting in a basement bar in Taipei drinking myself into oblivion one shot of tequila at a time.  I was writing by hand, page after page.  I knew that I was going to finish my whole notebook and that I would read it the day after as my body voided itself of the poison I was feeding it.  I would drink until the words flowed freely, and then I would keep drinking until my mind was empty; until I was unable to put pen to paper to form a letter, a word, or a sentence, a story, or a message.  Then I was going to write an email to a woman.

When we get to the point that we can say nothing more, that I when we will truly find out what it is that we have to say.

This was the idea at least, the rhythmic nature of the ritual of drinking hypnotizing myself into a state of suggestibility and then I would tell myself what this as all about.

I am in a car I am on a street.  What do I want to say?  What the fuck is wrong with me?  When I write I can make the pen move and dance on the page and actually see how I feel without being able to understand the language that I am writing it; when I type the whole game changes and I am somehow separated from the story that I am telling by a screen that burns my eyes.  What is the story here, who are the people? Where is the death?  Where is the sex?  Where is the passion and how am I ever going to get to it if I am not able to even show my emotions on the page?

Before writing for me was such an intellectual thing, now I am flooded, soaked with emotions and I am finding that my old vocabulary is sadly and sorely insufficient to describe new things that I suspect are central to what it is that I want to write about.

Indecision, passion, flowing and loving, feeling and opening and connecting and getting past the things that get in your way just by keeping you what you always were.  It has to be a search, it has to be about lost opportunities and forgotten pasts.

There is a world of worlds out there, each one with a different heartbeat.  Our earth has a heartbeat of liquid water, whereas Titan has a heartbeat of liquefied methane.  It is a flutter of a heartbeat, it is light, it sounds like it might faint at any moment, an intricate dance between figures in a book, a beautiful dance between numbers in a calculation.

The sound of a dead planet, the sound the ice on Pluto.  Its heart has stopped.  We know it as Pluto, as Pluton, but there is no way to describe what it really is.  It is a “small planetoid,” sure, but there is still nothing on earth that we can compare it too… were Pluto to come and lie on earth somewhere, what would it look like?  A giant marble on a plane? What would it feel like?  Cold.  Smooth?  Would it be a round beautiful marble like jade spheres for sale in snake alley in Taipei?

What would we think of it if we could see it and smell it?  Everything has a smell.  We could bring samples of the moon back to the earth, but would they ever let me pop a piece into my mouth just to see what moondust tastes like?

Kinetic energy.

Where is it.

It is time to get focused.  Do I have something to say?  Yes, but that is exactly what I should never say.  People who say what they want to say are annoying – you can see right through them.  The story that someone wanted to tell is so transparent compared to the story that found itself, that asked itself all the right questions and was able to tear itself out of the terrible state of non-existence!

There is a lot that I hate about training myself to be, to quote my MIT friends, “a goddamn miracle of modern science,” but then there is a lot that I love about it too.

Am I a hard drinker?

“Fuck no,” says the brute, smacking the little shit on the crown of the head and sending him downwards in a pile.   The world can blink out of existence for just a while as I sit there in silence.  Why does a man meditate?  What is it that goes through his mind?