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!

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

The Year of the English Teacher

While 2005 may not have ended in the best way for a lot of reasons, it looks like the worst is over for me right now; I have a visa extension of one year starting next week, and money to stay in Japan for two months which means that I will be staying at The Refugee Camp at least until March.

The way this happened was by getting a job teaching English part-time in the Japanese public schools from mid-January to mid-March, which will give me enough money to subsist on.

So it looks like all major problems are solved…  I just lose a little bit of time that I would have liked to be available to work on producing these projects, but for now, that is life, and it is just for two months.  After that, I think I can leave without anyone being upset.  They English lesson company told me there may be a manager position open in the long term, but I am not sure I want a full-time position with them because of the work I want to do on my own projects.

Lithuanian Christmas and Grad School

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

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

Science

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

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

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

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

Politics

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

The education imperative

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

 

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?

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.

Making Things Complicated

The sleeping bag is damp.

I have been lying on it non-stop for three hours, and didn’t even notice it until now, shifting positions.

It is in one of these rare moments when the wind dies down and the surf drops to absolute silence… the gulls all around stop screeching as if collectively looking over their shoulders at the ocean, as I have.

Behind us, I hear our kite drop to the ground.

And the whole scene comes back to life again, birds, waves, and wind.

We have downed two bottles of wine, grilled eel, and a block of parmesan cheese.

This is the way I like to travel, with no itinerary, but rather a guiding desire – today’s is to see the sand dunes south of Hamamatsu.

And see them we have, for hours now.  It is a strand of beach, whipped up into hills of sand by the incessant action of the wind, one kilometer deep by 8 kilometers long.

The sun is sinking in the west, and I am cradling this adorable woman’s head to my chest, and she coos to me slightly drunkenly in her ever so slight accent:

“Let’s go back to the hotel room and fuck like crazy.”

It is good to be in love, it is good to have a girlfriend.  It is good to have a person who challenges you and who adores you, and who you challenge and adore right back.  It is good to be in synch with someone, psychologically, intellectually, sexually.

But these needs never seem to be met by one person, and this woman is not my girlfriend.

“I can’t do that,” I reply.  “you know that.”

“Then let’s go to an izakaya and drink some more and then go back to the hotel room and fuck like crazy.”

I am being good, and I laugh off her advances.

She has known from day one, well two, that I have a girlfriend, and that I am not interested in another.

But the important things are not what is going on between us, it is the feel of the wind on my feet and the smell of the sand.

I remove my arm from under her head, lolling it to one side as I rise and walk to our kite and coax it back up to the sky while she sits up behind me and lights a cigarette.

It is not quite dark enough to be called dark, but the wind has changed directions and flavors.

Can this be considered cheating in mind?

To have someone with whom I can speak in all the ways that I wish I could speak to my girlfriend, to do all those kooky things that she would never even consider trying, laughing off as immature or self-indulgent on my part?

Like staring at a hermit crab that we have just fished out of the harbor for half an hour to see how long it will take him to get up the courage to peek out of his shell at us.

Rescuing a long dead sea cucumber from a rocky grave.

Talking with a restaurant owner about his pet rabbits, long deceased, but whose amazing feats, like navigating flights of stairs in order to defecate into a little box, are forever memorialized in his memory.

“There are people for whom the details are important, and people for whom the big things are important,” I say.

“I am a details person,” she says, without hesitation.

“How so?”

Now, she hesitates, a little – “Well, what did you mean by what you said?”

“I don’t know, really.  But you seem to.”

We are silent for a while.  Pigeons are wrestling each other with their beaks.  I wonder what they are doing.

“They are kissing,” she says, and takes their picture.  Then she takes a picture of a landmark hotel.  Behind her, one of the pigeons is squashing the other under his feet.  talons, even.  She is oblivious, and by the time she turns around, they are circling around each other, disheveled.

The night before, we had been lying on the beach.  Today, we are returning back to our respective homes, where we will sleep and prepare for another day of work at the expo.

After saying goodbye, I search for a local-looking restaurant to get dinner.  I enter, and can immediately tell that as a foreigner and non-local, I am not very welcome.

“We only have curry left,” says the owner.  He is drunk and lisping, and the locals he is drinking with are eyeing me suspiciously.

“Curry will be fine,” I reply, and sit down at a corner table away from the unruly gang to watch the baseball on TV.

The curry is served up without fanfare, and I thank the owner.

As I am just about finished, his wife, the chef, emerges from the kitchen with a green chili on a small plate with a dollop of miso sauce on the side.

“Can you eat this?” she asks me.

“Of course.”

“It is spicy.”

“I know.”

I dip it in the sauce and eat it while she watches me suspiciously.

“Do you need water?”

“No, it was delicious.”

She shrugs and disappears to the other side of the room.  I hear her telling the rough-looking gang of regulars that I had eaten it.  She come back with a plate full, and drops it next to me.

“Go ahead.”

“Thanks,” I reply, and keep on eating the chilis.  One of the regulars sidles up to me and delivers the regular speech.”

“Where ya from ya look a little Asian I can tell by the nose you don’t look Japanese you could eat those things, thought maybe you were Indonesian could tell by the nose people with a triangle nose they can eat spicy food, me also, I’m not all Japanese 800 years ago my family came from Mongolia, but here in Japan I need to keep that a secret.”

I nod and smile in all the right places.  He is drunk.  The woman appears to have lost interest, and after telling me that chilis are too spicy for her, she retreats to the kitchen.

“What are you wearing under your pants?” he asks me.

“Underwear.  Shorts.”

He looks around furtively.  “You know Japanese underwear?”

“No,” I say.

“Well, there are no women around, so…”

He undoes his belt and drops his pants enough to show me the rag-style underwear that many older people in Japan still wear.  Younger too, for all I know.  Then he does his pants up again.

I swallow my bite of curry rice.

“I’m sorry,” he says.

“Of course not,” I reply.  It was interesting to see.

The cook comes out again, and joins us.”

“I showed him my underwear,” said the local.

“Bullshit,” she replies.

“Yes, I did.  didn’t I?”

This is getting weird, but I respond, “Yes, he did.  It was interesting.”

“I’m worried he thinks I am some sort of pervert,” says the man.

“Not at all,” I say, and am thankful when the conversation turns to another topic, what I am doing in Japan.

“Show us,” the cook demands, when she learns that i am an acrobat.  I can tell she doesn’t believe me.  She is trying to get a rise out of me, but I don’t know why.  I stand up and get ready to to a backflip as she calls out to the whole restaurant that I am supposed to be some kind of acrobat, and now I’m going to prove it.

I do a backflip, like a trained monkey, bow low, and retreat to my corner booth to finish the last bites of my meal.  I gather my belongings, and graciously accept the presents that the customers of the bar offer me for providing a little entertainment tonight.

Before I go to the register to pay, as i am putting on my jacket, the old woman implores me to stay in japan.

“Please stay and live here,” she says.

“Of course,” I reply.

“Of course.”

And it is time for me to go home, now.

The night before, we went to an izakaya.  Three or so, to be specific, and ate and drank until we could eat and drink no more.

I love that she can speak Japanese better than I can, but that when it comes to the street, I still have an advantage.

We are mistaken for every dark nationality under the sun, except for Black and Asian.  Indian, Spanish, Mexican…

An odd pair.

We fill up on food long before we feel the effects of the alcohol, so we head back to the hotel, picking up some strong Japanese fruit liquor along the way.

We turn on NHK, the Japanese public television station, which is showing the X-Games.  stunt BMX.

“Did you ever do that?” she asks me.

“God no.  It’s crazy.”

“You have done a lot of crazy things,” she says.

The lights are off now, and the alcohol has worn off.  the television channel is changing as I drift between sleep and consciousness.  It settles on a Japanese show in which a nerdy looking scientist recites facts about the surface of various objects in the solar system before naming them and showing satellite images of them.  The antagonists of this science program are two women who squeal orgasmicly at the information.

Surface temperature of 270 degrees Celcius…90 times the atmospheric pressure of Earth… atmosphere made up principally of carbon dioxide…

“Venus,” I mutter. “Gold planet,” I repeat, in Japanese, eyes closed.  The bed feels nice.

“Gold planet” confirms the scientist.

Squeal!

Brightest object in the blah blah blah tidal forces of blah blah no cratering blah blah

“Europa, moon of Jupiter.” the pillow is soft.

“Europa”

Squeal!

“How do you know all this?” she asks.

“Used to be my job.  I was a…” fuck it.

“A what?”

“let’s go to bed.”

She knows that I am not just an acrobat, but she can only suspect.  I don’t talk like how she imagines an acrobat would talk.  I don’t ask acrobat questions.

She comes to bed.  It is not the first time that we have fallen asleep next to each other, but it is the first time that she is breathing this way.

“I have the power, actually,” she says, “I can kiss you, but you can not kiss me.”

I don’t answer, but she moves close to me.  She can tell that I find her attractive.

The next thing I know, I am no longer being good.  There is kissing, and the breathing intensifies and I am flooded with images of my girlfriend.

She undoes her kimono.

I feel her hand on me.  I can feel where this is going.  Warm.  A summer night.

“No,” I say.

She doesn’t stop.

“No,” I repeat, more firmly.  “We need to stop.”

And she listens.  Falling to the side of me.  Breathing changing again.

Like a hubcap coming off a moving car.

“What are you thinking about?” she asks.

“If we do this, it can never be undone.”

And then she is on top of me again.  I want to resist, but that enveloping pressure so familiar and yet as unique as a fingerprint, lulls my protests.

And it is over.

“How do you feel?” she asks?

“Very guilty.”

“Nothing good at all?” she says, after a pause.

I say nothing.

“I raped you,” she says, “and now you hate me.”

I don’t hate her, and I tell her that.  I don’t even know if I was raped.

I never said yes, but I didn’t fight back, and when I let myself go, I enjoyed it, but immediately after, all the reality came flooding back, and I was back there again.

A dog.

I still love my girlfriend, and this woman knows that.

I can not sleep with this woman again, and she knows that too.

Though there are times when I am filled with a type of affection for her that I wish that I could feel for my girlfriend, I do not think that this woman could ever be my girlfriend.

And I will lie to my girlfriend about her.

And I continue to descend ever deeper into a complexity that I could have never imagined before I left the “right life” to find something else.

I feel so much more, for myself, and for others, than I ever did before.

And I am so much worse, and yet so much better that I ever was before.

In the morning, she asks me again how I am.

I smile at her, and say “you know.”  And then pull her to me.  When she can’t see me anymore, I stop smiling.  My hand is on her thigh, and I embrace her from behind.

She is beautiful, even with my eyes closed, but she is not my girlfriend, and never will be.

“You make things too complicated for yourself,” she says.

And suddenly,

Without a doubt,

I know that she is right.