Gymnastics in Tokyo

My new project is to put together a video of my entire career in 3 minutes.  It’s quite a task… to make these things easier in the future, I will be keeping all my “best tricks” in an easy-to get to video format.

It is funny looking at all these old circus videos of me from the last three years. I really have gotten better…

But I have developed tendonitis in my left shoulder by overtraining a little bit.  Hard to believe that I’m almost feeling like training is a chore – I remember the good old days when this shit was fun!

Still, it’s not bad – and it feels so good.  I’m training a bit with the Tokyo University gymnastics team, and about three hours a day just for my handstand number and to try to look a little sexy for the girls.

Catalysts

In college we had a rule: once Hitler and/or Nazi’s are mentioned, a debate is officially ended.

In Europe, Nazis and Hitler are simply not be discussed openly in mixed company.  Jokes about concentration camps or any such light treatment of the holocaust is met with shock and disgust.  Nonetheless, even among my well-educated American friends, ironic references to both were frequently bandied about just like on the television sitcoms we were raised on.

Americans have the luxury of being jaded.  To be cynical.  To criticize their own government is a fair and easy substitute for understanding other places of the world.  We outsource that search for meaning to charitable organizations with clear goals published in glossy pamphlets.

Catalysts

In seventh grade, we learned about catalysts – molecules that facilitate chemical reactions without being consumed by them.  Enzymes are the organic catalysts that make human beings walk and talk and live.  Actually, catalysts, organic or otherwise, don’t strictly make anything happen.  They have no purpose per se.  They just are – they exist – and in so doing, help human beings do the same.

Wax is not a catalyst.  I suspected that it might be, as objects coated with wax, such as candle wicks, burn so much more readily than naked lengths of string.  Furthermore, combustion of candle wicks (and human beings for that matter) is a chemical reaction.  It made sense to me, but my science teacher told me that wax is not a catalyst for anything.  Its apparent helpfulness in the realm of incineration is nothing more than a physical and chemical coincidence, and is not worthy of the moniker “catalyst.”  This answer was enough for me, and I took it to be the truth at the time.

I only think about the catalysts that wax is not just now because I am writing you now by the light of two Japanese tea candles in my three-room Japanese apartment where I live with my two Lithuanian roommates.  I am not allowed to live here; the apartment is rented as a double.  Whenever the doorbell rings and I am home, I have to jump into the closet and slide the door shut behind me in case it’s the landlord checking in.  My name is not on the lease because if someone is going to get kicked out of the house, it should be me.  Like it or not, the situation is such that I have more economic flexibility at the moment than do my friends.

The small inequalities

We have all just finished a six-month contract at the world Exposition in Aichi, Japan, where people could come to see all that the world has to offer.  And what the world has to offer, it seems, is a good deal of inequality, at levels that I had never before imagined.

It is not necessarily the huge injustices that are the most striking.  It is the small ones that make it difficult for me to sleep.  And the small ones are everywhere.  What is even harder for me to accept is how easily those small problems are ignored by anyone unless you actively try to find them or have them clearly and unambiguously pointed out to you.

The small injustices are not the ones that appear in UNICEF brochures, not discussed at international summits, these are micro problems that reflect the mindset that creates these iniquities.  I don’t know the causality, I can’t say which is a catalyst for the other, but I do know that for no reason except for accident of birthplace, some people will walk away from things like World Expos with a hell of a lot more money than they deserve, and that some walk away with a whole lot less.

See, while all of us were paid well by the standards of our home countries, but whereas per diem allowances were a nice bonus for the staff of some pavilions, it made up the majority of the compensation for the staff of others.  For example, the monthly salary for some pavilions was roughly equivalent to three days of per diem.

Nonetheless, we decided to chance it and to live out the remaining two and a half months of our still-unexpired Japanese work visas in Tokyo.  Why not Nagoya, or Kobe, one of the smaller, cheaper Japanese cities?  I think my roommate put it best when she said “if we are going to live in Japan, risking everything we have and more, I think we deserve to risk it all in Tokyo.”

The Tokyo refugee dating scene

We call ourselves “the refugees.”  And like many refugees, their college education, natural charm, and fluency in Lithuanian, Russian, English, and Japanese, make them far more qualified for employment than most American and European expats wandering aimlessly around Tokyo.  It’s not that their gamble isn’t paying off; one has an offer to work at the Lithuanian embassy and her schedule as an English teacher is filling up rapidly.  She has even found a few Japanese students who want to learn Lithuanian.  The other has found work as a server at a high-end restaurant off Aoyama-Dori, the “Champs Elysees” of Tokyo, and just tonight returned from her first (of many, I hope) gig as a runway model.

But there is a darker side to the experience as well.  In skimming the classified ads, both are aware of the opportunities presented by the pervasive and less-than-thinly veiled Japanese fetishism and obsession with the Westerner – want ads for Western hostesses to entertain Japanese men non-sexually in posh-looking nightclubs.

The myth of course, being that most Japanese men feel powerless to attract the attentions of a Western woman without paying for the service.  But a myth propagated by both sides for so long has a way of becoming the truth.

My roommates tell me that many Japanese men still become so dumbstruck by the sight of a Western woman that they will stop on the street and stare, or peep furtively over newspapers on the train.  I’ve seen it too: Western women reducing perfectly intelligent and articulate, grown, Japanese men reduced to gawking speechlessness and the charm of a fourteen-year-old boy.  It’s no wonder that many Western women leave the country with the impression of Japanese men are sex-blinded little boys.

That said, my experience with the Japanese women my age in the dating pool has not been great either, and I see the behavior that contributes to so many Western men’s perception of the average Japanese woman as a silly, giggly, little girl ready to leap into bed at the first racy compliments tripping off of a Western tongue.

I asked my Japanese women friends if and why they really do prefer Western men.  Evidently, Western men are much kinder, will open a door for you, or will say that you look beautiful – things that Japanese men evidently never do.

Now I don’t know if that’s true, as I have neither courted nor been courted by any man, Japanese or Western, but I can say that I have observed ungentlemanly behavior on both sides.

I will simply mention my own pet theory that the majority of Western men in Japan know that this preconception exists, and do their best to fulfill it to their benefit.

The plight of the half-breed

I may be wrong; I may be too cynical.  At any rate, I don’t seem to fully benefit from this preconception of Western men because of my impure racial status.  As half Japanese, I am not quite western enough to be exotic, nor am I quite Japanese enough to be fully accepted as one.  I do, however, seem to appear Japanese enough for white women to assume that upon meeting them for the first time, I will stop and drool over their Western-ness, a fact which became very clear to me while working in the international environment of Expo 2005.

In fact, most Japanese see me as fully white, whereas in North America and Europe, most white people consider me (even after being corrected) to be Chinese, which is evidently ‘close enough’ for them.  To complete the triangle of racial confusion, I recently discovered that in China, or at least a Republic of China, most people assume that I am Japanese.

The politics of travel for the modern circus acrobat

Last week, I returned from an eight-day contract in Taiwan.  What exactly I was expected to do there is still not clear to me, though what I did do there is now done — I worked with the Taiwanese National Junior College of Performing Arts and the Taiwan Arts International Association as an instructor, collaborative creator, and performer.  What I will remember of the experience is so much more complicated than that.

I am a circus performer.  I would like to believe that there is more to what I am, or rather, I wish that being a circus performer was something that I could believe to be important.  Something that I would not have to justify and qualify to myself with additional clauses like: “but I am really a writer,” or “with college degrees in completely unrelated fields,” or “but I hope to study political science next.”

One of the unique aspects of the classical circus tradition that carried through from medieval times is that a travelling performer is seen as a true “other.”  We are definitely no native to the towns and cities where we play, but we are not seen as simply tourists, either because we spend more time in the various locations and interact more directly with the locals.  It is my goal to be able to fit into the local environment completely – to pick up on enough of the local language, history, customs, and politics – to really feel at home no matter where I am in the world.

So far, it has taken me from the internationally isolated expanses of the United States to schizophrenic and judgmental, if equally uniformed, Canada, to the injured multiculturalism and thumping nightclubs of Holland, to the seedy side of the Ramblas in Barcelona and its denizens as contrasted with the pace of life in the smaller coastal towns of Catalunya.  The marble-paved central square of Torino resonating with the droning and birdcalls of a misplaced digeridoo, the lakeshore, affluent college town of Zurich, the provincial countryside in France as contrasted with the very different remoteness of an tiny town clinging to an impossibly steep mountainside high in the French alps.  Munich, Nyon, Tokyo, Nagoya, New Zealand, and now, most recently, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.

Everybody has an enemy.  Everybody has his own prejudices.  Everyone finds a way to love himself, even if they hate doing it.

I am on the bus, riding in leather-upholstered comfort from the airport to downtown Taipei.  This is the first time since leaving the United States four years ago that I have not been capable in the native language of a country that I am working in.  For me, capable means being able to get a hotel room, order dinner and a drink, meet a new person, and make a woman laugh without ever having to speak a word of English.

I hate to do it, but it is inevitable.  In a new country, I can not help but make comparisons to other places.  It helps me keep everything in order in my mind.  I worry that by drawing comparisons to places I know will keep me from seeing the new place as distinct and unique, but in fact, I think it has the opposite effect.  By comparing one city to another, I bring into focus all of the things which make them different, like overlaying two photos that differ only in the smallest details and holding them up to the light.

Forgive my romanticism, but there is a soul to a city.  It is in its smell, perhaps – no city smells like any other.  I have to be careful always to separate the feel of the wind in a city, Boston, for example, from the memories that I might associate with that city.  The 11pm sunset and 4am dawn of summer in Holland is not the feeling of a woman’s hair gliding through my fingers and a light kiss on her cheek to the wafting perfume of blue roses, though the two are forever intertwined.  One is for everybody, the other is for me.  And her, I hope, always for her.

I used a new trick in Taiwan.  A city fits a person like a new outfit; well, or poorly.  Standing on a corner next to a vacant lot under a highway overpass with the buzz of Vespa-like scooters Dopplering around me as the lights in a distant apartment complex blinked out one at a time, I imagined myself to be in Minneapolis.  Or Boston.  Or Tokyo.  All cities that surely became my home in one of the alternate realities of my life, and one that actually became my home in the current alternate reality – at least for another month.  Separate from the memories that I associate with each city, I was surprised to find that Taipei could feel like home as easily as any other city I could think of.  And so I decided that I would explore it as though I lived there.  Meeting people, making friends, wasting time.

There is a state of openness that I find I can only achieve when I travel.  It makes me handsomer and more interesting, I think.  It makes me risk more.  My best friend tells me cynically that “people always love you when you are leaving.”  I guess it is only fair, because I always love them when I get there.

I found that all of the people I met in Taiwan were amazingly open compared to what I had come to know in Japan.  The political complications and views were just below the surface, and could be exposed with the slightest provocation, expressed with an onslaught of passion that in addition to being a little unnerving, was fully refreshing.

The key issue of course, was that of Taiwan’s independence from mainland China.  Among the people I spoke to about the issue, there was no identifiable consensus, nor was I able to find a clear demographic divide in their views.  No one seemed to subscribe to a majority “party line,” though everyone could list off a buffet of party lines that they were not willing to subscribe to.  According to them, such simplifications do not adequately address the complexities.  This was unlike what I was used to in Canada, for example, where the consensus among my artist peers was that the United States is bad, though people rarely researched any deeper than that.  In the United States, I find that there are those who accept the party lines, and those who calmly step outside of the arena entirely.

For example, there are the American travelers whom I encounter who respond to any criticism of their homeland simply by saying that they “didn’t vote for George Bush,” as if that absolves them from responsibility.  Or even worse, those Americans who sew Canadian flags on their backpacks to hide from scrutiny instead of informing themselves enough to engage with criticism of American foreign policy and intelligently discuss current politics of the foreign country than the average local.

In preparing to visit Taiwan, I read as much as I could about the history and current politics of the island.  I felt like I had a pretty good overview of the issue, but after only eight days there, I understood how each person’s unique family history and world view will forge, over lifetimes and generations, a spectrum of possible opinions on the matter.  The articles and books I read could not do justice to the intricacies of any single individual’s story.  Even the people who didn’t give a shit had detailed, well thought-out arguments to support that viewpoint!

The Taiwanese certainly seemed unified by their disagreements.

Teaching new circus in Taiwan

I was in Taiwan to teach Western-style physical theater and modern clown to the state-supported National Chinese Opera and National Circus Troupe as well as performers from an established Chinese Opera company.  I was also supposed to help create and perform in a “modernized” acrobatic/circus/clown show.  I wouldn’t have felt qualified to volunteered for such a job, even before discovering that it was infinitely more difficult than I first supposed.

In Taiwan, budgets are rarely high enough to invite a Cirque du Soleil-style show and this is the company that defines modern circus for most of the world.  Very few western dance companies, theater companies, and musicians, let alone large circuses, regularly make Taiwan a must-visit top on tours, even tours that take them through Asia.  Those artists that do perform in Taiwan rarely stay to participate in any sort of exchange with local artists.

For arts in general, but particularly for the specialized fields of clowning and physical acting, this means that a Taiwanese artist in Taiwan interested in an area of art that develops off-island, they have little choice but to research on the internet.

I met a Taiwanese Flamenco dancer at a dinner party who explained that five years before, it was impossible to learn Flamenco in Taiwan.  Only five years ago some foreign Flamenco teachers first came to visit, and had been received with much enthusiasm.  As a result, their students voraciously consumed what the teachers had to offer, but at the same time, as the Taiwanese were unhindered by the years of history and tradition that the instructors were, some interesting and novel hybridization took place.

Modern dance has a longer and more home-grown history in Taiwan.  Some internationally known dance companies developed, but as the time came to replace founding members with new local talent, it was evident that the pool of trained dancers was not as deep as in North America or Europe.  Taiwan lacks a long tradition of Western classical dance, and therefore, fewer young dancers.  What Taiwan does have, however, is a long tradition of the traditional Chinese Opera, with its athletic blend of martial arts, acrobatics, and object manipulation.  New dancers were often recruited from those Chinese Opera, performers who, for one reason or another, had retired from the Opera, which brought a vocabulary to the Taiwanese modern dance repertoire that is not seen anywhere else in the world.

But without real person-to-person exchange, research alone cannot put flesh on the skeleton of pure research.  It is even worse when you consider that the internet is more a reflection of popular opinion than actual fact.  For proof, simply enter “clowns” into a google search to see what my Taiwanese students were expecting me to teach them.

This is a valid style of clowning with a long history in the United States.  But such clowning is far from the European tradition and the experience of traditional audiences in Asia or anywhere else in the world.  But without a pre-existing circus clown tradition in Taiwan, there was little resistance to the importation this out-of-context image of a “Western clown.”  But it is superficial importation taken out of context has resulted in a funny sort of game of cultural “telephone.”

So my lesson plan that focused largely on using honesty and vulnerability to express your true self on stage with subtle simplicity and to fight impulses to “perform” was pretty alien to my Taiwanese students’ preconception of clowning.  My first clue should have been when I was given as possible themes of my workshops “the facial expressions of clowns,” and “acrobatic falls of clowns.”  Their notion of clowning has been formed from an outside-in perspective and follows the wushu, Chinese Opera, and circus training pedagogy of repetition and imitation.  Chinese opera roles are learned by physical rote repetition, and circus numbers are taken move-for-move from numbers that were performed 10, 20, or even hundreds of years ago.

But in some ways, these artists, my students, were also fed up with aspects of this tradition.  They saw that what is happening in international modern circus is lacking in what they practice in Taiwan, but they couldn’t identify just exactly what it was.  But one thing seemed to click.  They were obsessed with one principle I mentioned in the first class: “feeling.”  I talked about only doing what we really feel on stage, not doing anything artificially, and this seemed to be a novel idea that resonated with them.  They asked me countless questions about feeling: What do I feel when I am doing my circus number?  How can performers learn how to feel more when they’re on stage?  When I am onstage, are my feelings my feelings or are they acted feelings, etc.?  Unfortunately, these are the same questions that I ask myself, and therefore I had no clear answers for them.

Teaching the class in a country and to students with vastly different performing arts traditions opened my eyes.  Exercises that I considered my “throw away” exercises, ones that are done to death in every acting class I had ever taken or taught, suddenly took on entirely different meaning.  Old explanations of certain exercises were no longer adequate, and I saw students discovering whole new truths and applications that I had never even considered before.

The culmination of the whole experience was an on-stage appearance with four other Western clowns and half of my students in a performance that showed just a little bit of what can come of young artists searching for new meaning in a country’s traditional arts.

By the way, it turns out that what is actually burning in a candle is the wax itself, and that the wick acts more like a catalyst than the rest of the candle.  The way the wick is manufactured and woven influences many aspects of a candle’s performance such as longevity and amount of smoke produced.  All this and much more information for people who care about such things can be found on the internet here.

I pray that we are all people who care about such things.

All In The Name Of International Understanding

The other day, one of my Jewish friends was telling me how she thinks people would be much happier these days if Hitler had won.  She says that a Nazi world is a simple world.  I asked her if she thought the world was simple in Dachau, where her grandmother died.  She told me I make things too complicated.  She said that I would have made a lousy Nazi.

I think she was being a little harsh.

Often, just walking down the street I find myself hating people for no good reason.  I think that I am right most of the time, and that people who disagree with me are wrong.  I believe these things because I feel as though I think more deeply about the world than everyone else.

It took me just under three years to get to the point where I am able to say the things that I need to without fear of repercussions….

It takes less than a half a century to forget the scars of a million innocent deaths.  It takes less than a man being willing and able to make a change in the world that keeps him down.

Down, down, down, so softly speaking to no one in particular.  It is a free world that is holding me from telling you all the things that you wish that I could say, but at the same time, I am locked in a vault of lost ideas, of unspoken beliefs, of forgotten vendettas…

I am on an island in the China sea right now and I am walking freely, feeling no compassion for the bands of emaciated and wild dogs that roam the streets looking for handouts or perhaps just each other’s company.

It is a free world, and that is what we often forget.  That others are not doomed to share our own beliefs.

This freedom can make the world an ideological prison for the small-souled.  What is it that can either feeds a soul or cuts it off to atrophy, to wither and die?  To fall off in a gangrenous heap and dissolve into its surroundings?

If we were all large-souled, if we were all free enough, then would there be space for emptiness?  The emptiness upon which we can project our freedom?  The emptiness that serves as a stage for the human spirit in a world slowly filling up with millions of people?

We need to change the way that we think about numbers of people about population.  We need to think in terms of volume, not numbers, to see the world around us as a whole unpunctuated with that unpleasant otherness that keeps ‘them’ away from ‘us.’ 

The shit begins so early in life – just as we start to put up the walls that tell us what is knowable and what is easy versus what is unknowable and difficult.

Why are we so able and willing to accept things that will make it more difficult for us to achieve more in the future?  We, the little human flowers, are pollenated by these same vices that we are told to avoid.

We need to kill our own assumptions and certainties about how the world works in recognition that everyone’s interpretation of the facts is pre-tailored to their own vision of the world – not the other way around.  And as it is, we are all right.  It is all valid.  Even the insane.   It is an insurmountable task to unify a world with such diametrically opposed views.  But breaking apart our own views, assumptions, and certainties – is that a cure for diametric opposition itself?

For example.

She is an educated American.  College graduate.  She can program a computer and she works in a lab.  She feels as though she has seen the world because she has been to Europe.  While she was there she spent two weeks in Paris, which is where Americans who want to go to Europe go to say that they have been to Europe.  She spent some time at the Louvre with the friends that he was travelling with and they took pictures of each other playing in the sculpture gardens.  They partied with other travelers in their youth hostel located just beneath the cathedral of the sacred heart.  They saw the Eiffel tower and celebrated bastille day.

They danced in clubs that are frequented by North American tourists and Parisians who want to pick up North American tourists.  They speak no French.  When people meet them on the street and ask if they might be American, they say, “No, Canadian.”  Easier than a political discussion around imagined political views.  Were Europeans to challenge their political views, they would simply say that it was not their fault as they had not vote for President Bush.

They see evidence of a political climate that is different from that back home in the homeless and the varied racial makeup of the denizens of this old European capital.  They make jokes at night about the frogs, snails, and funny accents.  They miss the food back home, and see the local cuisine as a necessary price to pay for their exciting experiences.  They meet a group of local guys (charming with cute accents) and they kiss on the dance floor of the club.  Their furtive attempts to explore the sweaty terrain covered by Abercrombie and Fitch halter-tops are giggly swiped away, but after closing time, in a back alley, a full expedition is encouraged by rhythmic swaying of American hips in the humid Parisian summer night.

They all have boyfriends back home who can’t understand why they would waste their short summer break from graduate school to frolic around in a country that has no relevance to or common history with America.  They explain themselves and the trip, saying simply that it is all in the interest of international understanding.  How can the world change, they wonder, if there are no brave souls willing to make that first tentative leap across the Atlantic to extend a hand of friendship to our European brothers who are so misled as to the true nature of the American soul.

These ambassadors of good will, who, through sloppy, drunken blowjobs, have drained their Parisian suitors dry, are now stumbling home with their arms around each others’ shoulders, singing the American anthem at the top of their lungs.  They’ll go back home to America tomorrow, but they have made some fantastic friends here in Paris, and the memories, the memories will last a lifetime.

All in the name of international understanding.

Back at school, their graduate programs are bursting with foreign students.  And now, they will be joined by these newly-minted, open minded, worldly Americans.

Tequila Guinea Pig

Something about travel makes a person introspective.  Maybe I am more open, maybe more closed.  Either way, I am able to more easily step outside of myself.  Perhaps it is the anonymity – no one knows who I am here.  This is true of most places on earth, of course, out here, I can create a new identity.  Everything is reinventable.  Maybe I always wished I wrote more.  Now I can.  Maybe I had too much attachment to physical things.  Here I can let it all go.  Maybe life moved too fast.  Here I can slow it down.  I must first and foremost, however, reinvent myself as a local by mastering silence.  At worse is a person stays silent, people will assume that he wasn’t paying attention.  Or deaf.  Or stupid.  Actually, I guess you can do a lot better than stay silent, but you can definitely do a hell of a lot worse.

There is a Taiwanese baseball team on the TV called “Sinon.”  A man can’t help but think of it as the French “sinon,” “otherwise.”  A man who speaks French, that is.  But this makes a man think of all the languages he doesn’t speak.  To think of all the baseball teams named “desolation,” “until,” or “should.”  If only we spoke more languages, my friend.

But what would that really do for us other than to provide a moral high ground in being able to speak to people in their mother tongue?  “Multilingual.”

I read a book about translation by Umberto Eco.  It dealt with the idiosyncrasies of different languages and the impossibility of a one-to-one mapping between them.

But there is a flip side.  The way that discovering these idiosyncrasies yourself can open your mind and your life.  It’s like when you live your whole life in Tokyo, riding the subways, and just by chance you take a ride in your friend’s car and you discover that two places that take 30 minutes to travel between by train would maybe take you 5 minutes by bike, 10 walking.  In learning a new language, this happens intellectually and emotionally.  A language is a system that defines our passage through life.  Another language is like walking into a whole new universe.

I have committed myself to 3 shots of tequila after a rum and coke and a dead cow’s worth of grease in the form of fried American-style bar vittles.  What do I need this courage for?

It’s less courage and more a commitment to the time that it will take to drink these three shots.  I am trying to write deliberately.  Seeing each word before writing it down.

The tequila is room temperature.

I am sitting in a bar called “Roxy” in Taiwan.  Taipei.

Lately I have been the victim of digital robbery.  Memories and writing stolen away from me by failure of media and hardware respectively.  In the past it would take a fire or a flood to destroy this shit.  Now it takes a scratch or a power source failure.

Where has my voice gone?

I have been trying to let go for so long now and succeeded in general. What is holding me back now?

I found a nice tailor in Taipei.

After only one drink I am at that stage of drunkenness where you feel like your energy is seeping through the whole room, infecting the ladies like a madness.  But I know it is not true.

The Taiwanese are loud compared to Japanese and quiet compared to Americans.

Dutch beers here.

I like a country where you can’t drink the water.

But I love the feeling of tequila flowing from your stomach to the rest of your body.

The pen on paper is fingers on skin.  Little hairs on your arms rise.  Lips part.  A sharp inhalation.

And now my handwriting resembles so closely that of my father and it makes me wonder if he had these thoughts ever in his life.  It makes me wonder about how handwriting is not about how you write an “a” or a “b,” but how you write “love” or “fuck!” or “death” or “loneliness” or “failure.”

I pulled on a stick today; got a fortune out.  Time for Shot #2.

Lately I have been feeling like I disappear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like that.  Did you see me?  In these moments I feel like I can observe without being observed.

In Japan I was seen as white.  In America and Europe I am seen as Chinese, and in Taiwan (China) I am seen as being Japanese.  Full circle.  Full circle.

Is this just another one of my experiments?  Just a way to determine after how many drinks my writing changes to what?  Marijuana, LSD, THC, what more can I want?

Here is a list of the last 3 years: USA, Canada, Holland, Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and, effectively, Lithuania.  Where the fuck is my home?

Here is my life.  This is what I do: one-armed handstands.

2 more tequilas.  This is fun and alarmingly so.

Why is my dead grandfather in my thoughts so often?  I was a damned pall bearer for my grandfather and I had forgotten about that until I was watching an Ally McBeal episode of all things that talked about pall bearing.

Did I mention “phony” as one of those words before?

But there is a buzzing in my head that gives a slight feeling of urgency to what I am trying to express.  Want to see a straight line?  Here:

“____________________________________________”

“____________________________________________”

And a back flip?  There.  See?  I am not that drunk.

And the Red Hot Chili Peppers are telling me that what they got I gotta get it put it in me so here we go with Drink #3.

The American in front of me has finally let it all hang out and is now revealing his Americanism to this song.  The two beautiful Taiwanese girls accompanying him have left the table.  Gone home.  But as far as I can tell he speaks perfect 普通話.  AS DO I, OBVIOUSLY!

“Otherwise” has won the baseball game.

I am going to go to the bathroom and then walk around the bar.

“The Killers” are playing.

I almost walked out of the bathroom without washing my hands.  I think they have a 32-channel mixer.  Has that ever helped anyone?

The baseball game has finished.  A movie is playing on cinemax.  The bar is nothing special.  Sinon… Sinon…

A big group has moved from their side of the bar to mine.  A Nirvana poster on the wall.  Take a good look at the gouges on a table the next time you are at a bar.

| || || || | ||| <- A killer riff.

1999. Remember that time? The Gymnast? The Old Money? The Half-Breed? The Communist? The Quebeqoise?  All the others?  There was a 1999, a 2000, all over the world.  But I only knew mine.  I keep having flashes to go back and talk to people but I promise myself that I will not.

Remember?

To be an American in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, to be Japanese in Taiwan?  German in Europe?  What about English in America?

Building for building there are more Taiwanese flags flying in public in Taiwan than American flags flying in the USA as far as I can tell.  Maybe I have not been back in too long a time.  No, probably not.

“Otherwise” is still celebrating their win.

Me, my girlfriend is coming tomorrow and I’m not sure I’m still the only one in her life.  And that is OK.  We lead lives without comparison; it is a small price to pay.

My father has not written me since I wrote him a loooong time ago.  That is a first.  His girlfriend has moved in.  It is time to move to fiction, to writing slowly, but first: Shot #4! And it was good.

The DJess does not know who sings “Dirty Water” and neither do I.  I was drunk enough to think I could just email Boston real quick.  Nor “Kids in America.”

Did you know that God is helping me on this trip?  He told me to go to Terminal 1, he told me to oversleep and miss Narita Airport, he made me skip the beautician and go to the funky beautician, he made me choose the wrong bus line that got me closer to my hotel, he made me walk longer through the nightmarket to find the place with a straight razor, to find the tailor, and he helped the DJess find the “Kids in America.”  Now I need to listen to it.

Thank you.

Congratulations, you are an alcoholic.

I start from 2nd grade and count a continuous string of 12 girlfriends to age 15 (Shot #5).  Another 13 take me to age 28.  Slowing down a bit.  Best guy friends in my life only number 16.  Hm.

That is some strangeness. And that’s not counting my family.

Two more shots.

His name is Kieth, the American, that is.

Circus school friends

Working Hard At Not Working Hard

Lousy evaluation in Jeu: C for being tired and either late or arriving just before class starts.  I also need to work more on writing for various projects instead of sticking with the simple things.  I guess i agree with that but as I was telling The Clown, I haven’t felt comfortable doing harder things yet because I don’t feel I’ve mastered the simple stuff, but if she’s indicating that i need to try harder things i will take that as a sign and work at it. 

Preparation physique was fine, not too tough today. 

It felt like spring and as one of the first year girl’s has just broken up with her boyfriend which always changes the chemistry in the school I found myself at my charming and flirty best today!

In Equilibre i did some one-arm work with Larissa for the first time and she had me do cool drills where we actually held each other for the one arms to actually feel exactly what you have to do to hold it. 

Worked with Esteban on crosses again.   

Trampo was trampo and my pike barani is not too bad.  At the same time i was trying to work standing back fulls with Straps Guy and another of the upperclassman.  I meant to do back fulls but kept doing back full and a half so they were teasing me for that. 

Finished up the day with tightwire – I got A’s and B’s but the evaluation got weird when the teacher asked me why all the girls are trying to switch out of his acro class. 

I’m really exhausted I didn’t get much sleep last night because there was a big dinner with my roommates but it’s still good. 

I’m definitely eating better which boosts my energy.  since so many teachers said i was working too hard and tired all the time i’m going to take a couple of days where I don’t do any additional work just to give it a rest anyway and take some time for myself.  it’s against my nature, and the first time i’ve done it since starting the school, but they insist that its better so I’ll give it a shot.

Group act in the animation before the National Circus School annual show

Grumpiness And Burnout At Circus School

Slept in again, missing my equilibre major class but with no Byamba, I am not too worried.

Started with ITA where I stayed at the cradle the whole time.  I ported for over half the class.  Alexander is giving me good advice.  He said that he would buy me a huge bag of peanuts at Costco when he goes next.  I almost finished the ones he said I could take from him yesterday right before I almost got a migraine before trampo.

I worked with The Clown in juggling on our number that we have to prepare for the end of the year.  It will be a hat number.  It is funny that it is the two of us and then the rest of the class, most of whom worked with us in the evaluation concept.

We presented to them and I think thought it looked pretty good.  Main a main was ok too, but I was sick of the girls, who would sit in a spot that they repeatedly were almost run into as others of them fell from the barre russe.  Dumb!  People really seem to be getting on my nerves lately.

In movement I got to do my first contact impro class with The Contortionist.  Have to admit it was a little more fun that my second time with one of the first year guys.  Anyways, the technique is making more sense, now.

Then I did a little Byamba equilibre.  I also talked with The Trapezist about Russian teachers and things like that.  We obviously have differing opinions on the matter.  Now I’m tired and not looking forward to dance.

Night.

Back In The Game

Skipped jeu after a night of general malady of the emotions and calling friend after friend to no real avail.  Did preperation physique first, and was a little floored by 5 minutes of jump roping and a 2x rope climb, but in general, I did OK.  I have awesome rope burns on my feet and insides of my knees.

I learned to always volunteer first, which I did anyway, but in the case of the rope climb, I started from sitting without using feet just like we did on the MIT gymnastics team, and then when I could no longer do it, I switched to using feet.  I also climbed all the way to the top, and did a slow descend with one arm at a time.  After, he clarified that we could start from standing, use feet, etc, and could slide down.  Most started from standing with feet and arms, and made it halfway before sliding down.  Would I have done what I did if I hadn’t gone first?  Probably.  But going first allows you to set your own bar without looking like a showoff.

Equilibre was fun, Larissa worked us hard.  I definitely feel like I am back in the groove.  She also gave me the phone number and fax of the Moscow school, which I will try calling later.

I am getting much better at the stumph’s.

She also has me doing the stumph to both blocks being thrown away at the same time.  Oh!  And we saw Larissa’s weird bendy pole act, which she did not like, but it was fun seeing her be a performer.

In trampo I actually did the piked barani.  Just had to take it easy, and be an observer of the trick at the same time as a performer of the trick.  Relax!

Richard was not there for fil, so The Clown and I watched a video of hat stuff for inspiration for our juggling number we need to do.

The Aerialist came in and watched an old school show, and we all agreed that the technical skill was better then, and she was mad when I was critical of technique.  I saw the number of the guy who I might have seen in alegria (equilibre) and commented that I didn’t like all the cheesy discovery of the apparatus stuff, but she said that this might have been the first time it had been done, and so was not cheesy.  I think it was still cheesy.

Then I tricked The Contortionist into thinking that a guy who looked a lot like her roommate really was him and that it was last years evaluation concept.  She believed me so much that I had to tell her the truth.

Then flexi and muscu.  The Flyer wanted me to teach her some martial arts too.  When someone put in the mortal kombat theme, she raced over to attack The Clown and me, but I defended myself reflexively a little too aggressively, and I think that caught her off guard.

During flexi, Larissa came over to me and introduced her Russian husband who spoke Japanese to me, but I do not think he understood my English or French.  Then they left without her introducing him to The Clown.  Niether of us know what this means.  Russian thing?  The Clown says, ‘but I am not really her ideal student.’