Travelogue - Home

Date: 16 June, 2003
Time: 02:45 (AM)
Subject: Expatriate!

This will be may final entry as an American for a bit.  Tommorrow, or, like, the day after tomorrow, I leave for Japan.  I am moving to Japan, and am allowing Japan to move into me.  My mission:  To be invited by a Senior Executive to a round of golf.  To find a traditional Japanese swordsmith as an emisary for my friends and family.  To find an in tact Soto Zen monestary in the hills which welcomes me with open arms and allows me to practice, and hits me with a stick when I'm not paying attention.  To learn the structure of the Japanese Language and by it to better understand the Japanese people.  To read the Vishudhimagga, the Digha Nikaya, the Samyutta Nikaya, the Hatha Yoga Pratipika, the Especially Long Prajnaparamita Sutra, the Abhidhammatha Sangaha all of which are in my backpack waiting to be consumed. 

What has just happened is a mystery to me.  But today I went to the Kenmore Archery Walk-Through Range, a hills and gulleys trail with targets throughout.   We spent the day assassinating Burlap animals for pleasure.  We went in with 20+ arrows and returned with about six.  It was a beautiful day.  Then I went bowling with Buster.  He took highest average by two pins, I took highest game by one,  Next I rode home with my elderly PII laptop on my back, five miles back to Beth's house over my newly discovered "First Ave Bridge" rabbit hole.  Unbeknowenst to most, there is a separate bridge across the Duwamish at 99.  Its tricky to find; just stay to the right coming from downtown and keep going until you can get under all the overpasses, there's a final onramp of sorts for pedestrians that's supper slick.  half way across I stopped to marvel at the yellow moon's reflection in the river below, with the industrial wasteland of South Seattle strewn about like jewels in the divine plan.

Yesterday I built a workbench downstairs for Beth and the day before developed 11 rolls of film.  I have perfected the art of fidgeting and obsession by simply picking up latant, languishing projects and taking them to the next level.  Now several hundred images developed, they all need to be labouriously scanned into the computer and spewed out by my printer's psychotic interpretation of my images.  The Epson 875DCS printer I have has decided that my color and contrast schemes are too "safe" and has started reinterpreting it all in a much more interesting fashion.  I may rescan some of these so you can see what holga --> kitchen sink development --> photoshop --> cheeseball printer produces.  Or not.  Time is of the essence.  I leave on wednesday, so early in the morning that it may as well be, or rather it will be, the night before still when I board the plane.  I have readjusted my internal itenerary to reflect the fact that in order to be seated on a plane at 8AM I am going to HAVE to be at the gate by 4:AM.  6 at the latest...  Thus, I will still, clearly be up Tuesday night at 3am when I have to leave for the airport, from Beth's house, in South Park.  Via Public transportation/Taxi.  Thus, it now being 3am Monday morning, I leave "tomorrow, three days from now".

That's about it.  Lisa came up from Ghana to be in Portland for a bit, get laser corrective surgery, stop off in Seattle for an evening of fun talk about internal parasites and desolation that is rural Ghana;  I got to listen to stories about the strife and the beauty of a people who know only eat drink and be merry, for tommorrow, well, Lisa said it best over the phone to her friend, "People die there all the time..." 

we all laughed, cause its true, and well, what else are you going to do?

So tomorrow I leave for Japan.  But still I sleep tonight and tomorrow night.  I'm confused.  Its been such a surreal time packing for this journey.  here's a partial inventory of what I have in my bags:

  • 20 degree down sleeping bag, spaceblanket, 3/4 ultralight thermarest, tarp, hiking boots, snowseal, and (de facto) two backpacks, nalgene bottle, binoculars, compass, survival kit, rain jacket
  • a small library of esoteric buddhist and hindu texts
  • two pairs of kenneth cole shoes
  • two laptops
  • a clip lamp, oldschool style
  • three knives
  • a scuba mask and a ski mask
  • a brown vintage leather jacket and matching newsboy hat
  • dressclothes enough for a workweek and two ties
  • a french press and coffee grinder
  • japanese saw set, chisel set, spokeshave, sharpening stone, and a hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, wood scraper
  • a Nikon F3 with 3 lenses and a Holga
  • full range of casual cloths
  • skateboard
  • sunscreen, bugspray, calendula, organic toothpaste, natural bristle toothbrush,
  • "Everything" that identifies me as being who I am, down to a full set of dental x-rays.
  • yoga mat, prayer shawl, pyjama bottoms.
  • scanner
  • photo developing tank
  • messenger bag
  • one pound of coffee, one tin of rolling tobacco
  • etc,,,

Its very strange to try to encapsulate your life into a single trip by plane.  I think I've structured a system where I can have two checked items and two carryons, all within ballpark of the regulations without too much fuss, weighing in around 150 lbs, and all transportable in a single trip, for up to five kilometers before I start to bitch. 

When I arrive in Japan, I will be met at the airport by representatives of Nova who will escort me to a temporary apartment in Osaka, before taking me to my "permanent" apartment in Kyoto, nearer my assignment;  I'll be off the green line I think.  Kyoto only has two lines in their subway system.  Simple.  So far everything according to plan...  So I'll have a couple of weeks comuting to Kyoto from Osaka for work.  Typical;  I will be going against the flow of most of the urban sprawl population.  Returning to the ancestral homeland for work everyday, and coming home to the Los Angeles of Japan. But w ho knows what tomorrow may bring.  I am pretty sure however, that there will be coffee and bathrooms; and that's all that's important...


date: June 18th, 2003
time: 01:04 (am)

Sipping a martini, about to cancel my cellphone number, bags packed, and freaking the fuck out ont the inside only...  In four hours I leave for Japan.  Last rites: to burn my extra bank checks in a sacrificial offering of my finances to the gods, and to upload the latest offerings to  Which I am now in the process of contributing to which... 

Oh my oh my oh my.  This feeling.  Like standing on the edge of a cliff with a strong updraft, leaning forward ever so carefully, not wanting to jump, but wanting the rush of surrender.  This feeling, confident and secure that everything will go as planned, yet thrilled by the ultimate lack of control to which I am surrendering.  Falling, falling, falling into the future of the unknown.  Turning Japanese, I really think so.  So much uncontrollable, unknowable.

So much to freak out over, yet, my internal raging fear is tamed by the knowlege that none of this really HAS to happen.  Its all just some crazy game in the end.  So I have Haiku for the road, I have the Chrysanthimum and the Sword I have a pound of coffee, I have pre-ground, so I can make decent coffee on the flight in my travel french press, to which to add the complimentary Bailey's irish cream.  I leave at five am for the airport.  At eight I fly to canada.  Then from canada at noon I fly to Osaka (inshallah).  And with any luck, there will be a person unknown to me, on the other end, waiting with a sign that says "Nova" or some shit.  And "they" will take it from there.  How strange.  Never thought I'd be THAT guy.  But life takes a lot of crazy twists and turns, if you haven't noticed.

So I leave my life here in Seattle.  My last night was spent with Beth and WiL and significant others.  Last night about ten folks showed up for a swell going away party, and I ended up in bed with two girls... PLATONICALLY.   As Sheila so emphatically emphasized.  She's the one I went to NYC to visit, only to cross paths again weeks later in Seattle.  At what point does life resemble fiction?  And I haven't done a lot of things I wanted to do in Seattle, but I've done the important stuff.  That which is unfinished, can wait.

What do I do now?  Now I wait. I decide whether to risk sleep for a couple hours.  I burn the latest version of my website to a CD and upload it to a server in San Diego.  Then I board a plane for japan, and browse the 802.11b airwaves of Osaka!  Do they use 802.11b in Japan?  Do they have coffee and wood there?  Do they smoke rolling tobacco?  Do they listen to punk rock music in seedy bars and bitch about their bullshit jobs?  Do they get into relationships that take control of their destiny, break up from those relationships and drift aimlessly in existential ennui?  Do they suffer heartbreak and loss of loved ones?  Do they worry about where rent is going to come from this month?  In short, are they human, having human experiences?  Do they live, breath, think, and die like we do here?  Time will tell...

I spoke with my mom today, she is not at all happy that I'm going to be so far away, and she's not going to be consoled.  I talked with my love Julie, who was so thoughtful as to call and wish me a happy departure and safe travel even though I forgot her birthday last week.  I spent the day quietly freaking out inside myself.  The nausea hit about seven, the vertigo about nine.  Now I feel as if I'm already in flight, a slight dissociation fo place, a small internal chaos that knows no reality.  To be so calm, so composed and so confident that inside can be a whirlwind of breathless anticipation, yet to the external me, its just another day.   Looks like all that meditation has paid off...  Also, I've been through all this three times (times two) before...  Nevertheless, can't think, can't write.  Must finish martini.

I have no idea what the future may bring, but I'm confident it will be entertaining.  That's all from America; now is the time when I expatriate.


I've made it to Vancouver thus far.  In the end, I was busy up to the very last minute, leaving no time for sleep, getting drunk on Martinis, obsessing over trivial details, making sure every room in the house has been scavenged for toys, all my possessions have been meticulously picked through.  In the end, my suitcase weighed in at 78 lbs, and my Backpack at 57.  I'm gussing my smaller backpack, since it has the heavier things, weighs at least 35 or 40, and then the messenger back must weigh 20 or so.  The grand total then is around 200 lbs of luggage.  Amazing.  And I have five pairs of shoes.

In the end I was sitting at the gate by 6am.  It was madness getting through security.  The guy running the x-ray took his job WAY too seriously, and when I sent my backpack through without removing the laptop, well, lets just say, the bombkit was out.  I guess a laptop on top of a camera with multiple lenses, um, and toiletries, will really through you.  He made me throw away my nail clippers, which I spaced.  Fuck with all the trivial details I obsessed over, I missed THAT one!  Dammit!  Oh well, I'm out of the country now, and that's what's important. 

So killing time in Vancouver.  I managed an hour long nap before curling up to my first bloody mary for the day.   It just occurred to me that I also forgot to "confirm" my airline tickets 24 hours in advance (for whatever reason anyone does that) and make sure I had requested a vegetarian meal...  DAMN so many things I forgot. I did set up a United Air frequent flier's plan which partners with Air Canada, got my number, and my flights creditied.   So I haven't been totally slack...

Thus far, turing Japanese, I have shot 25 images from the airplane alone.  Speaking of which I should really go buy another roll of film.  Wierdest thing about money.  They take dollars here, at a shitty exchange rate, but give you your coinage change in Canadian, and yer bills in USD.  How funny.  Or maybe I'm just delerious since I haven't really slept in 24 hours or more.  I'm still trying to work out how I leave at noon from here and arrive at three pm the following day after a ten hour flight...  That'll be fun to ponder over free drinks on the plane...

My mom gave me The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.  I thought, oh, a little light reading on the plane.  No. Its a sociological study done of the Japanese for the war effort in '44-'46.   Jesus.  Why couldn't I have just picked up Dune or something!  Beth said its good, too.   Oh, well when that gets heavy I can always loose myself in WiL's going-away present;  A book of Japanese Death Haiku.  The famous last words of several monks and Zen masters.   Do my friends know me or what???

Love you all.  Next page you read will be from Osaka.  Cross your fingers and pray for ample 802.11b!!!

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