Friday, November 14, 2008

The Pain and Glory of Post Election

Chalmers Johnson created a gruesome trilogy finishing with "Nemesis." His books, documenting in part the tragedy of the Bush years, are a brutal reminder of what many now will begin to forget... how very much was destroyed in my native nation America, and most pointedly in Iraq, these last eight years. As a healing pilgrimage I will drive tomorrow through the autumn forests of Kyoto prefecture to the small village of Obama, and bask in the pop naivete of my Japan. Last Sunday I had thrown a Obama party and in tearful optimism celebrated with an international gathering of friends and bar patrons the great election of 2008. My drive tomorrow will be one more salute to our bubbling optimism that has laid dormant for far too long. We here and eleswhere in the expat community have not been this happy for a very long time, and for those of us, who faced race riots in our youth and years of animosity and fear, these are again hopeful times.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Real Times as Times Change

I listen to an audio book version of 50+ by Bill Novelli with Boe Workman. The author was affiliated with AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States. I and all my fellow Baby Boomers are now this demographic. Despite critique from their competitors '60 plus Association', a group probably to the right of AARP and one I am not truly qualified at 57, the "World's Largest Circulation Magazine" The Magazine AARP encourages me to reflect more deeply on my present prospects and so is helpful in my present angst about the financial crisis.

How much I long for change... not only in the present political balance, but more importantly on a fundamental personal front, but not one from outside by the tyranny of financial ruin and loss of health, but one built on solid choices and personal integrity.

I punish myself with critical self-critique allowing my anxious thoughts to circle the wagon without my firing a shot in defense.

I take small baby steps when the goals worthy of a life need giant leaps and bounds. Tomorrow I will begin the day early walking in exercise with a young friend, mosey over to work at the start of a new season, and later eat sushi with a partner. All the while the thoughts circling, like fiendish tweety birds around "putty tat" Sylvester's head.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Which and other questions

In June Japan, there is a rainy season, prior to a rather oppressively humid summer. In between the downpours can be blissful cool clouds or hilariously sunny days. We teachers scurry, entangling our students in assignments and final tests. No one rests easy. For me, it is a horror of anniversaries, mixed emotion events scattered over a life time. If I were proceeding at full potential, perhaps I would not have this backlog of chores. Perhaps, it is easier to focus on my shortcomings and confess than actually do what I must. Perhaps there are no perhaps, just procrastination.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Parental Angst

Everyone has heard of the mind-buck of being the parent of teens. Just before it happens there is hardly a foreshadow, in fact one can hardly imagine it... Yet it very well could happen, and in some cases linger a life time.

If I had an answer I would be writing it here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bliss Time

Mornings are my bliss time. I lull myself to sleep with profound, though demanding, theological text and audio files. In the morning I feel refreshed after the initial angst of remembering the nights, dueling in dream-mares... That surreal evening of half wakefulness inside images of no clear message, yet brooding emotions.

In the morning breakfast is always welcome, despite its simplicity. In the morning dressing is a fresh start, and a chance to create a color theme for the day. In the morning I can enjoy a sparkling podcast and feel the message. I am an information junky and my AM fix feels the most invigorating.

Today I will rendezvous with a friend. These interludes pull me through the energy drop as I teach. A drop due to the nemesis of a pathology, insisting on improvisation without a full armory of weapons. There is in my methodology a belief in student-centered pedagogy, yet the demands of this wish would mean far more attention to detail, to distinguish one student, one class, one university in the mental mix of my day.

My mind is as a dinosaur, as student 'need and opinion' is processed, there is a time lapse, between the experience and its processing. I miss diagnosing one student's need into the face of another, a jumble of emotional impressions and pedagogical solutions.

For years I have developed elaborate systems of administration. Lists and teacher diaries, attempts at identifying needs and directing lessons. These experiments in analysis and solution stuff my draws and filing systems. Is there a final solution? Or is it simply a state of endless anxiety... a painful process, chasing the needs of the classroom with my dwindling human resource of energy and mental alertness.

Back to the firing line... aligning my sites and practicing my marksmanship.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Brutal Mood Shifts and Burns

Hail a frequent disposition, a curdled yoghurt dripping from an antiquated musical metaphor. Thank God a spell check follows me, an obliging carrier of stimulants. I felt sad despite euphoric quality time with my son, disappointed at my loss of control... of what? What exactly more do I want as my realm? A garden that grows as my own... what for? Kids who live somehow from my clues... how absurd! I have my wards, mounting the hill, ready to take on all my canons and artillery precautions. I have never been ready for any day. There has not been a day done very well for a very long time. I want to shuffle and redeal. To call out to a mother who has been dead since before death even was an issue. Bristling, again I am over stuffed. But what for? Certainly not satiated satisfaction! I have lost walks of dimension, meals of gratification, sex of any depth... fat beyond recognition of anything worthy of the price of admissions.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Bloated... excessive lunch and attempted gardening tasks. Silence in retreat. I switch on my last listed podcast to make noise as I type. This strange insular relationship with digital space. Politics, philosophies, technological news. Building what?

When a man reaches his 50s does he have a way to fabricate a future? If he is a single dad, has an established career, owns his own home and all the middle-class assumed assets from blender to hedge cutter... how best to allow alternative paths to enter in to the mix?

How best to be, that is the question for men of my age.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Chains on Thoughts

Tad Perry has written, and provides on the internet, his "Quick and Dirty Guide to Japanese." I had printed this out, some time ago, and from time to time I give it a read. He has made an honest effort of sincerely developing a sequential and somewhat logical series of instructions.

If one were to make an effort, and persevere beyond a week or two, one might begin to grasp the monumental challenge of this second language, Nihon-go. For someone like myself, steeped in this second language up to my 'life in Japan' neck, any learning would help.

The reason I have brought this up is, all tasks, like losing weight, learning a second language, creating a new dynamic lifestyle, etc. feel monumental. All are theoretically attainable, yet all are monumental.

In my daily ruminations I love to imagine ambitious projects that will have two or more goals and lead me on to a long held objective. A Manga book on Japanese grammar, a videocast of film clips of life in Japan, ESL Video podcasting, some physical challenge that will also assure weight loss, are just some of the examples that dance through my head quite regularly.

This is a pattern of 'programing my life' with a great adventure and challenge, a methodology that has worked in the past. My walking the streets of Manhattan, My Japanese pilgrimage, My many art projects, becoming a parent, are all examples in which I have succeeded in achieving several goals simultaneously.

But something has changed at this stage in my life. It feels less and less likely that I can muster the enthusiasm. I am locked in stage one, planning. This may be due in part to the complexity of parenting. Maintaining the 'normalcy' of a household lends itself to stagnation and procrastination. I tend not to want to rock the boat. And too, there seems to be a still strong after-taste of my wife's suicide, that fundamental earthquake of the soul, which says, not all change is good.

I suppose too, there have been a long series of smaller revolutions in my life, long trips and experiments in alternative communities, which did not initiate the personal transformation I had imagined. There is a certain level of 'stick-in-the-mud-ism' in my life, that is both reassuring and frustratingly anchoring.

I would not mind the anchor, if I were more confident in this angst-filled pot I stew in. I am endlessly disquieted by voices of discontent, yet stifled from affirmative action. In sociopolitical parlance, I am on the welfare ticket of a decent job and so stymied from self-initiative. I lack strong enough motivation to jump to the next level.

I am in my own way. I am fat off the system while feeling the victim of my own inaction. A victim of my own smaller successes, I feel I am missing the full glory. I do not snap to attention when a sweet narrative prescribes a pragmatic solution.

Instead I languish in lazy distractions until time to act has past. I no longer trust my inner drill Sargent, nor the cajoling mother of compassion with her platter of promising sensuous delights. I belly up and whin like a 300 pound only-clild. Why can't I have everything without the added effort, without the risk, without the investment? Don't you just hate brats like that!

And so I sit in my soiled nappies wondering why I find myself so unappealing. I would need to be conscientious, to be ambitious in my goals, to model the behavior I prefer to preach. And... inevitably... be willing to risk and invest, to sacrifice some of this security I cling to.

To qualify as a grown-up, I will need to climb over the comforting confines of my crib, and venture out beyond the kitchen, into the land of suits and ties, sweat and toil, responsibility and commitment... Gulp!

Peering through the bars of this self inflicted wallowing, I see spring through a distant window. I somehow still trust myself, as I stack my toys against the sides in order to lift my chubby leg over the polished pine boarders of my creaking crib. This nerd might be ready to abandon the solace of this Blog infested computer for the scented air of actual life.

This fat kid is heading for the front door and won't stop until he is neck deep in the baptismal waters. The image is quintessentially planted in the fertile fields of imagination, next step is over the wall to freedom... Beyond the abstract to applied resolution. Glory hallelujah! He is arisen from the dead!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Living Halfway

Today I will push through the remainder of my in room activity, a stack of magazines and books by my bedpost waiting to be read. I want to clear through this to bring on the Spring and new school term. It is cool and rainy enough to justify this remaining inhouse activity.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Today was a miraculously beautiful day, but, much like all of this winter, I merely percolated in front of my computer... stopping periodically to clean house, cook, or interact with Kai and Grandma. This has been a rocky road, an abstracted time, occurring primarily in my head. It was the winter of head. It was a winter of romantic companionship fading... Now soon I will be slipping on a haircloth, of edgy acclimation, while I again adjust to rooms filled with adolescents.

My exploration was in the realm of atheism, culminating in Catholic nostalgia and a sad yearning for the simplicity of Spiritual naiveté. 'New Age' was so promising, while I watched my wife dissipate into depression and suicide. Now I look out onto the fresh frontier of a mental health community which is no further developed today than the compassion of Republicans under Bush. We have all been under Bush, as if under the weather, for eight horrific years. Meanwhile, how little seems to have been learned.

I so much had wanted to win the war against obsessive eating, only now to find me a comical bit actor in my own self-authored tragedy. I will let my subscriptions run out for my Vegetarian and atheist magazines, let the air clear of logical pursuits, and let the waves lap, against the side of my head.

Sea salty foam carrying sand and sediment... You read this, from your small minority of one, perhaps the only one who ever saw more. I write this for you, shipwrecked on your own sandy coast.

We are now light enough to float on wind. Years of accumilated baggage will not hold us down. The mind has open windows. We are loose, though we cling, momentarily, to those who flurry near by in this twisting Spring breeze. We'd like to bond again but, chances are, we will always be free of each other. Free of the love that once made us invincible.