Category: musings

To all the Rooms Ive loved before

So the other day I was flipping through one of my old boxes of letters and and pictures from years past (which reminds me that there are still some of you who owe me letters from the Great Michaelpanda Spring Letter Exchange 2007 *wink*) and I ran across some pictures of an old apartment I…
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Birthday Scarf Panda

There’s still a part three to the Great Tohoku Road Trip 2007 (parts I and II can be found here and here, respectively). But it’s taking me a while to get to it since I’ve been kinda down recently, and busy at work to boot. It was my birthday last week, the big 28, which…
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Are you getting fatter…?

So last Friday I found myself stuck in a meeting all day from 8 to 5. Now this would be bad enough, but combine it with the fact that it is the rainy season – and hence hot, sticky and miserable – and that a typhoon happened to make landfall that day, and you pretty…
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Public Drunkenness at 50mm f1.8

Whatever I thought it would be like, I’m pretty sure I didn’t think it would turn out like it did – my mind going over the laundry list of things I had to do to get ready for work tomorrow, my heart heavy with the thought of having to walk to work in a wool suit in the hot sweaty mugginess of the Japanese rainy season, my eyes just moments prior flicking over train schedules to find the fastest route home after getting off at Tokyo so as to avoid time consuming transfers and giving myself a chance to catch a few precious hours of sleep before having to get up the next day. Here it was, my little moment which I had dreamed of long ago, and rather than feeling euphoric, or overjoyed with hope or optimism as I had expected, it instead felt oh so very… real…! But not real in that way that excitement tinges your tongue with feathery touches of alkali, or real in the way that hope swells your heart such that you think it will burst from your chest, but rather real as in the damp, sweaty, somewhat downtrodden leaden-ness of the everyday grind. Maybe not as real as waking up one day to find yourself a lonely bald fat low-level manager of a box plant and suddenly realising your youth is gone, but definitely real in the way that you realise you are now, at this very second and this very age of 27, engaged in a day to day struggle not to end up that way.
It wasn’t a sad feeling, the lack of euphoria, but just surprising that achieving one’s dream – no matter how small – would feel so completely run of the mill. After all, what I was doing at that moment wasn’t particularly unusual, and now that I thought of it, I had done this very same thing – eat an eki bento on a bullet train late at night – quite often in the past few years. I began to wonder: was this all there was to life? (silly I know, but I thought that). Were we lied to when told that achieving our goals was to rewarded with feelings of accomplishment, when in fact all it felt like was more of the same? Or perhaps, more disturbingly, had I set my dreams and sights too low?

Dining Table, what what!

Table cloths, placemats and varnish – these things are artificial filters that barricade the connection between us and the immediacy of the moment. Naught but the trappings of pretension, they defy the purpose of buying furniture in the first place – to use it and to let it serve its purpose. I don’t want to stop to think to put down a coaster, or spend hours trying to lay down the perfect streak-free coat of varnish and stain – I just want to kick off my shoes, set down a plain white ceramic bowl filled with a simple food on the table, open my computer, or tear off a sheet of paper and just be.
When the future is uncertain – when my future is uncertain – it is comforting to have this reminder of the my connection to the solace of an immediacy of moments spent in comfortable surroundings, in my little house right here in my little corner of my little city in this little chunk of this little island floating all along and bobbling in the wide vast swath green blue oceans of the uncertain scary world…

Killing Time…

sitting, back primly poised, hair impeccably parted to one side, cream colored leather Coach handbag tucked to one side, keitai strap dangling loosely out one of the side pockets, makeup perfectly done, as always, beautiful lips pursed ever so slightly as manicured nails flicked pages of a book from one to the next, eyes moving ever so slightly through expertly applied mascara lashes, each iris twitch scanning top to bottom, right to left, page to page, ponytail bobbing slightly as each echoing shift of the train’s bulk rippled through the ground, through the wheels, through the floor, through the bench, through her body before manifesting itself in one tiny quiver, momentary separation of individual hair fibers, rippling shine reflecting the brilliance of the azure and topaz sky flitting by in the rows of houses cycling by in the background, melody line of children’s Doppler laugher fleeting by for split seconds as suffused imagery of suburban bliss melted into a motion streaked blur of background behind us, parallaxing through windows and the smell of earth and coolness of autumn air cascading down inverted metallic slats of the old fashioned sun screens pulled down over half opened train windows, and I remember ginko leaves – beautiful, gorgeous stunning ginko leaves swirling through the air, striking yellow against austere brown branches silhouetted against topaz skies

Don’t Speak

But what about the next one? And the one after that? And after that? I can’t catch them all, and the knowledge weighs heavily on my mind. When we’re young we can afford the luxury of constant self analysis and the comforting confines of reality, but the older we get, the more we have to accept the fact that an increasing amount of our world paradigm will be predicated not on fact, but on fictions we have unwittingly invented throughout our lives. I feel that disconnect from reality is endemic to the modern middle age condition and we can only hope to ameliorate its more vulgar excesses – however, we can never truly hold it off. One day we will open our mouths to speak something we swear is true, and it will be our children standing across from us, rolling their eyes and heaving an exasperated sigh at our ignorance and irrelevance.

Himeji-jo and Acclimatization

What starts as a simple comparison of differences between cultures quickly spins out of control into a series of increasingly disconnected judgments, finally culminating in a bizarre tangent about the supposed submissive role of women in Japanese society! In the process a fully painted – yet completely falsified – picture of moral drama unfolds, complete with villains (Japanese teachers, “repressive Japanese system”), heroes (“I’m not going to sit down and do nothing”), treacherous deeds (“brainwashing”), and the archetypal damsel in distress (“this frail young girl”/ “timid and erased Japanese girl with no will to fight”/ “a good and submissive housewife”).

Reality Intrudes

I came home the other day to a suprise package at my doorstep – a big brown box from america, emblazoned with amelie mello’s name in the upper left hand corner. Yes indeed, the international panda exchange was on. I love panda packages from overseas!!! Excited, since I had had a rather rough day, I…
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[I know this is a really long post without a lot of pictures. If you do take take the time to read it, thanks!] I’m staring across the table at this man. the first thing that strikes me is his teeth – precarious, almost fragile looking. unlike many Japanese, they’re aligned in a relatively straight…
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