TRAVEL ITENERARY     berkeley pages Travelogue,

Subject: Finals
Date: April 7, 2003

As I sit tonight in my tent, I am still working on my homework.  I finished the Puggala-Pannati, now I'm working on my creative writing, while studying Japanese...  My semester in Grad school is coming to a close, and I'm cramming for finals...Playing grad school is fun.  Squatting grad school is even better.  Surreality has sorta become the norm, though.   "Konoekidokudeska"--what the hell is that supposed to mean?   Studying Pali and Japanese at the same time will really break one's head.  Aphex Twin is the only thing I've found that really smooths the translation.

One interview, one job.  oh, I forgot to mention...

!!! I'm moving to Japan
... to Teach English !?!

Japan.  Now I'm an "English teacher" living in Japan.  Some would argue that I don't yet live in Japan.  Some would argue that I don't yet teach English.  To those I say, time is relative to perception.  The logistics are bizarre enough as it is without worrying about trifles such as my "not yet having moved."  I only sorta kinda live in Berkeley now anyway;  I still have one foot in Seattle, one in Charlotte.  In an even more conceptual way of thinking, I never returned from India...  Simplicity is key when you live a rootless existence; so for the sake of simplicity, I am assuming that I now live in Japan, and am only visiting the States on holiday.  Reality in fact, is relative to perception.  I'll spare you the Hegelian Dialectic that's on the tip of my fingers...

So grad school... Finals... The sudden imposition of a deadline on my life has applied a pressure I haven't felt since being in school.   Oh wait.  I am in school.  Whatever.  My days in Berkeley are numbered.  Yet for now I have two circles of friends; I spend most of my social time with the Cafe' Elodie crowd.  Baristas make good company.  Partly because they have to be nice to you... and they have to show up at a certain time each day...  Nevertheless, Carman, Justin, and Sam have all been good friends.  There are others across the bay whom I haven't seen since I lived in San Francisco earlier this year...

Time being relative, this last fiscal year has been quite long.   A year ago today I was showing up to work as a computer geek, monitoring the hacker comunity from a dark room beneith the Space Needle in Seattle.  It seems so many lifetimes ago.  I think Cara was breaking up with her husband in Illinois about today and was heading back to Seattle to meet me on the first of May.  My Windows password at work was "Thai4m3" [thai for me] a secret kabal between myselves that should the quite foreseeable happen, my first day out the door would be my first day in Thailand... In the end it took six days from getting laid off to arrive in Thailand. 

[Did you know "week day" is a Japanese word?  That means they didn't have a word for the work week till we came along... "No Smoking" section, incidentally, is an English term/concept as well...]

So wow.  School's almost over.  On the 22nd, a tuesday, I board a train for Seattle.   I'm trying to figure out if I "move" back to seattle at that time or if I return to Berkeley after my sister's wedding... only to move to Japan via Seattle a couple weeks later... I've arranged a month-long train trip (my second) around the event of my shaming, my sister's hat-trick of one-ups, Her three-upsmanship?  Not only is she graduating from Law School before I even am enrolled in grad school, but she's getting married before I can even concieve of 'relationship,' and to cap it all off, will be starting a career-track job in the late summer, buying a house, probably a dog... oh wait she already has the dog and SUV.  Its amazing to consider we're from the same womb, and from the same upbringing.  To hell with "nurture vs. nature"!  "nurture, nature, roll the f*cking dice" seems more like it...

So, Sanjihandess--its half past three.  My friend, the Owl, is calling for me.  I think I'll take 'Shakti', my nepalese wooden flute, out to sing with them.  Tired.  My brain is full... Yet now its time for Music class...

Date: April 7, 2003

So back at the library.  Contemplating existence.

Japan.  The reality is starting to think in.  The big challenge is simply realizing that the experience is empty.  Purely empty.  Today I am here, tomorrow I will be there.  I'm not entirely sure where to go with that.

Except the library.   That much is clear.  And Elodie.  Elodie followed by "Curry in a Hurry."  And the YMCA.  The only downside to the Y is that its fucking impossible to get "that song" out of one's head...  And Tripple Rock Brewery,  my local bar.  This evening I hung out with Justin and Carman at the Tripple Rock.  Does Triple have one p?  I don't think it matters personally....

See...  Saussure teaches that linguistics is fundimentally a study of the spoken word.  Not the written.  When one studies the evolution of language over the course of time, one cannot but be amazed at the variety.  Saussure says that the most natural thing for language to do is evolve.   What is artificial is when it remains static, when it fronts like its staying the same.   Even now, fifty years later we see dramatic shifts in the way we express ourselves.   And what seems natural and fluid today will seem stodgy soon and old-fashioned soon.  The concept is termed anicca in Pali.  Especially in Buddhist terminology Anicca, impermanence is the root one should not forget in viewing phenomenon.  That beautiful woman, the vision of whom, arises lust within me, will someday be someone's grandmother.  If one believes in past lives, then one can harbor the notion that she was once one's mother.  Impermanence, total, complete and perfect change believes that a hundred monkeys with typewriters, in an infinite span of time, will eventually produce the works of Shakespere.   The beauty of Shakespere lies in impermanence, lies in the finite span of time, lies in the notion that what is now soon will not be. 

One of my favorite meditations is to consider the lifespan of all sentient beings to be equal.  Then to accept that any structured entity will be to some degree sentient.  Trees, mountains, in a purely animistic sense are all Sentient.  Now, the lifespan of all entities being equal, the experience of each will be filled with the same quantum of drama.  Each will be born, will think, will die.   And in their death they will express the same ultimate truth of reality as you will.  The fly that you swat, cut down in its prime, will have experienced the same emotions and depth, will have questioned its meaning and place on the earth.  The butterfly, in the field, apperently randomly fluttering about is in fact fulfilling its higher purpose of living, seeing its path as a casual stroll from '...oh, I think I'll go over here now...' to '...guess now I'll go over there...'  From the perspective of an ancient redwood, we appear as flighty as that butterfly.  To a sacred peak like Kailash our movement is as inscrutible as the volition of an electron.  In the infinite span of time, the lives of we, the living, sentient self-ness [atta] is as impermanent as the sensation of heat,  as the motions of air, as the wind; our entire civilization appears as a breeze, a draft, perhaps, from an open window somewhere...

But never mind all that.  The day after tomorrow I will be in Japan, living, peeing, brushing my teeth, sipping on coffee [ko-hee] at a cafe at three in the afternoon reading some esoteric philosophy about the meaning of it all...  Tomorrow morning I will be visiting Seattle to see Beth and WiL and the rest of my Seattle family.  Then in afternoon I will see Jessica in Chicago and Josh and Amelia in Ann Arbor; by the evening I will be witnessing my sister Suzanne's marriage of holy matrimony to Wess.  My sister's last name will change tomorrow evening.  Then that night I will be in New York to See one of my oldest friends, Erik Johnson, the executive, and my dear friend Sheila, the starving artist.  Sometime in the early morning I will board the train back "home" to Berkeley.  Then I will wake up the next morning, hop on the train to Seattle, to catch my flight to Japan.

Somehow it seems so...

Impetuous/Impulsive/plausible battle for supremacy.  I truly do NOT know what is going on any more.  Long ago  I sat back in the Perfection of Wisdom and said, all is empty, completely empty.  All is indeed vanity and vexation of the spirit and there is no prophet under the sun.  And from that moment forward have been trying to hold my attention to the diverse phenomena of existence, with more and less success.  Where others see anchors,  I see impermanence.  Where others see necessity I see caprice.  This has led to no end of drama with my family, you can imagine.  I, as most "men" my age... though I scoff at/choke on that notion.... I obssess over my relationship with my father.  It is part of the life drama  I guess...

So what happens tomorrow night?  All this planning gives me a headache.  What do I do tomorrow night when I get off work.  I can only imagine I'll go to a different bar then the night before, order a beer, sit, enjoy the local culture, drink the local Pabst Blue Ribbon, probably while digesting a noodle dish.  I imagine I'll need my strength for the next day's journey. 

Its all too much.  Tonight I sleep in Berkeley.  Alone, completely and utterly alone in the midst of all my friends.  Right now, after this paragraph I think I'll go read the Abhidhamma on level B of the library at one of the study carrells at the South-East corner of the library; nestled amongst the Asian students.  A budding expatriate, whose mind left for Asia many years before.  

Date: Apr. 9 2003

Back at Elodie.  Head swimmy.   Yesterday went drinking for a coupla drinks before starting on the Dhatu-Katha.  A real annoying book.  But fairly concise.  It has been thoroughly contracted, and its tables made explicit with fold-out diagrams of the concepts which are marginally useful...

Trying to get my head together about this trip.  Trying to figure out what it will be like in Japan, the redistribution of my possessions across the planet.  Trying to figure out where I live now, now that I live in Japan?   So the redistribution of my wealth is based on one basic principle; keep as little as possible in storage, while maintaining access and control over the majority of my current belongings.  So.  To be abhidhammist, we would form a table:

things going to Japan Things remaining in Seattle Things going to/remaining in Charlotte Things going to other people

camping equipmnet

  • tent, stove, extended gear
  • standard gear

art supplies


memorabilia/ sentimentalia

  • alter equipment
  • prayer rug




books books books books
computer equipments
  • big dell
  • big laptop
  • little laptop
  • routers
  • scanner
  • printer

  • data archive

Beth gets:

  • wireless keyboard
  • wires
  • maybe printer?
  • monitor
musical instruments
  1. midi keyboard
  2. drums
  1. big drum? 
  2. flute
  • yoga mat
  • camara
  • most basic woodworking set:
  • slide projector
  • lightbox
  • Bike accessories; boxed, to be mailed... inc. tools, lights, lock helmet, etc.

will gets:

  • sewing machine
  • sword
  • monitor if he wants it?
  • 3/4" chisel
  • 1/4" chisel
  • mallet
  • saws
  • hammer
  • blockplane
  • 3/4 gouge
  • 1/4 gouge
  • camera equipent, misc
  • cordless drill, jigsaw circular saw
  • woodshop...

so the systems starts breaking down.  In the end it all depends on what I want to DO when I go to all of these places.  Am I more likely to construct in Charlotte, or in Seattle?  At WiL's or at Beth's?  In Japan?

So with the re-distribution of wealth there is a deeper reality unfolding.  If I can seemlessly empower my environment...

No, it just doesn't work when I look at it self-centeredly.  I am merely trying to house my things.  I feel responsible for them.  I want to play with most of my stuff later at some point.  But having 24 hour access to the bulk of it is not required.  Therefore Beth has my two futons, my bike will live somewhere, things here stuff there, and if it all comes together, then...  Whereever I may be, the things I would like to play with will be there. 

Now the deeper truth of them all is that I have all I need now, in a smallish backpack, containing esoteric wisdom in print, a digital processor capable of any number of party tricks, a travel mug for my coffee buzz, and, well, several other things.  In all of this, what is the truth of my things?

They are sufficient.

...In their manifold combinations?

eminently sufficient

In their non-existence?

totally sufficient.

but what if its cold and raining and you find yourself naked on the side of some god-forsaken stretch of road, bereft of all material possessions, freezing, starving, coughing on deisel fumes and needing to pee?

Insufficient.  Look for plastic sheeting, cardboard, and a sympathetic ear. 

The truth I guess is that possessions flow in a continuum.  My parents taught me that when they moved into a new house and got rid of everything with which I was familiar.  All my mementos are tightly packed into about four 33 liter trunks in the attic and a bedroom closet.   My books are in the closet, as well as my Grandfather's laz-i-boy, the chair he was in the night before he died.  In his sleep.  There one moment, gone the next.  Like a good Swede.  Nobody's charity case.  Yet, I have held on to that chair, that chair which lived for a spell as a piece of front porch furniture in the worst neighborhood of Asheville, in one of the best epoche's of the regions history.  From Retirement to Chaos Collective living and now the purgatory of a closet in Charlotte.  And the chisels, and planes and tools, and detritus of hundreds of years, the ganga water which will traverse the united states yet again to wait in a holding pattern with Celene's magic random pixie dust, in a draw, sealed, waiting for their next call to magickal duty...

My oh my.  So it all flows, and somehow, its all okay.  The truth of impermanence is best felt in the tension of material possessions' trajectories across the field of one's life; but its only really interesting to an outside observer, when the paths cross over to other fields.  Stories are told what what has been passed down for generations, or passed from hand to hand around a circle of friends.  Material possessions are the glue that binds a culture, a society to itself....

Don't know where that was going.  Nor where it started.

Seattle to Japan via Berkeley.  With stops in between. 

Tomorrow I will be an English teacher, Sensai, "Hussen-san," Tomorrow I will be building bookshelves in the closet in Charlotte, tomorrow I will be Bowling with Buster in Seattle.  Tomorrow I will be smoking in a field of wildflowers with hawks flying overhead.  Tomorrow I will be taking my application to the Nova regional office in San Francisco.   Tomorrow's gonna be great. 

Hudson Cress, 2003. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: All events and people are part of the elaborate fiction that is my private reality. Any resemblence to actual people or events is purely coincidental.