They cant all be good days…

Four hot Japanese women. A killer, swanky, upscale martini lounge. Great music. Fantastic drinks. What could go wrong…?
The day started out fantastically – hung out with some other cute girls I knew from school, did the whole “let’s try new and fantastic ethnic food” affair in an effort to prove ourselves as cultured beyond that permitted by the Wisconsin boundaries, Afghani plates swarming with rich brown sauce, heavy lentils, succulent lambs and chickens generously covered in spinach – a gastronomical sensory experience.
Then afterwards? A complete 180, one of those point-counterpoint type of deals, manifest in 18 holes of quaint miniature golf in a rickety course that had definitely seen better days but that for some mysterious reason still remains inexplicably popular with the late-teen early-twenties demographic. No score kept, but good times had by all.
Afterwards, and this is where it all starts to go downhill – chilling in my car, driving home. “Activity” by Way out West driving a pulsating beat into my head as I head towards the sunset, the lights above the freeway just starting to flicker on – first a hesitant, tired yellow, then, with a near-audible *switch!*, tripping into clear halogenated purity, white circles retroscoping on my windshield, diffractions diffusing into my retina as colors intercalate into one another in alternating leaves, slides and slabs of the world around me flicking past at 65 miles an hour, and the tempo line is carrying my brain, the twinkling spacey tines that live in the treble frequencies dancing behind my ear lobes, teasing my hair and the undulating bass line permeating my chest cavity and synchronizing with my heart beat, shudders tripping up my spine as my whole body strains against the seat belt to move in rhythm with the flow, the airy space of the driver – passenger compartment almost palpably contracting with each movement, the atmosphere thick with what I can almost imagine to be the subtle rustling of wind as the DJ reaches over to adjust a dial or search in his bag for the next record to drop. I’ve never been to, but I can almost close my eyes and imagine myself opening them up on the shores of Ibiza, and my world begins to melt into dissolute hues and oblique angular references of the meandering road and world before me.
And it’s like the gap into the future, or the gap into fear, perhaps, as I can see the uncertainties piling up before me like so many potential profound implications tossed into a box bearing a small weathered yellow label, and the fear begins its slow creep, the alarming feeling of raised hair on your neck when you realize it’s here..! inserted in hat tiny gap between the beats at first, then darting, lurching, waiting, then bolder and more brazen as it enters in the tempo itself and that blanket of night sky that seemed so comforting at first, like a warm woolen sheet warding you from the worries of the day suddenly seems so ominous, and its steely coldness penetrates as the night wind through the cracked window and lays bare all the anxieties as clearly as if they were exposed to the harsh glare of the summer sun.
Worries pile atop worries, as it begins to sink in just how far ishikawa is from osaka and consequently the distance from my heart to hers, and the unsettling realization that “to go see about a girl” usually works out in the movies, but only because they cut it before the denouement, when you see the best laid plans of mice and men dashed upon the cruel realities of the fragility of the human heart. Concern about the path of my future, and the futility of the past, irrelevant courses of study fall by the wayside as the beat grows colder yet, and I am being brought, screaming, kicking, inside – straining, with fear and hesitation as I stand on the precipice of the future, my future, with its full complement of dangerous unaccounted for uncertainties and the unsettling lack of a coherent plan of action, nor even a clear set of objectives, and most importantly, my heart pounds between each piercing bass wave the absolute fragility of the interconnected web of human relationships, and the phrase so close and yet so far… is cycling at 10,000 hertz in my head, over and over again as it expands in countless iterations like a replicating virus, each branch fleshing out into a brand new permutation of this litany of despair and disillusionment, and the comfort that had seen me through the past year , the comfort that comes in knowing that there’s an end to it all, suddenly seems so distant and far away as the memory of the painfully visible disappointment in guttural utterances – “oh” – as the last syllables of “ishikawa” passed through my lips and into the receiver, transmuted into electrons, flying across transpacific cables and into a sweet, perfect ear, little comfort, the beat seems to mock. My heart sinks so deeply I feel as if my blood has turned to a sludge of coagulated blood cells, and my arteries contract as they struggle to push the brown muck through to organs that desperately scream for want of oxygen, and my world is growing dim as it brushes up against the sheer force of dejection and I almost want to yank the wheel and head off the road, and fortune’s wheel do what it will…!!!
[WARNING: unabashed whining and shameless bitching ahead] And it is with this mindset that I found myself in the posh Kimia Lounge, one hand on an overpriced martini and the other clenched into a tight fist to prevent myself from violence at the high pitched squeals of idiotic banter zinging forth left and right all around my spinning head and leaden heart. There are times in every gaijin’s life, when, trapped in the midst of a bunch of Japanese, they suddenly come to intimately understand the motivations that gesticulate mass murderers to homicide. For myself, generally the presence of Japanese women (men as well, but women in particular), with their accompanying complement of non-stop superficial pleasantries and mind-boggling echoed affirmations of mundane observations (“kitsui desu ne!” “so desu ne! kitsui desu ne~!” “neee…!!!? kitsui kana…!” “soo ne! kitsui ne!”) proves to be some sort of strange comfort, a blanket of trite vocabulary patterns and ritualistic modes of speech which serve in good stead to keep legions of linguists happy and gainfully employed eking out things like the every last detail of the usage of the word “nanka”. In this sea of melodic predetermined politeness, an observant gaijin can often find some hitherto undiscovered perspective of his/herself and at the same time glean a new insight or two into Japanese culture (to add to their unofficial store of “nihonjinron”-like observations every one of us keep in the bak of our heads) plus even learn some new vocabulary while they’re at it. In effect, lots of idle chit-chat to convince all concerned that they’re somehow furthering some abstract concept of “internationalization” and allow each respective nationality to reinforce their cultural mythos of being accepting of those different from them, and individually, allowing us to boast, whether inside our hearts or to others, in vague self-reassurement that “we have lots of international friends”. (pardon my particularly pessimistic outlook on Japan-us relations at the current moment)
There are times however, when the illusion of internationalization gets cruelly smashed by the down-and-dirty gritty hammer of reality. And tonight was one of those nights as every second passed by like a tooth pulled with rusty pliers, myself trapped desperately between one impenetrable wall of japaneseness and another, – and a voice echoes in my head from a crusty old British ex-pat I met in a bar once in the ghetto end of Meguro in Tokyo – “you will never be one of them. it doesn’t matter if you’re fluent in Japanese, if you change your name , marry a Japanese woman, have Japanese kids, work in a Japanese company, hell, even if you were born in Japan and have lived there all your life – you will always, perpetually, forever and eternally be a gaijin to them – for you, entrance into their world will forever remain an impossibility.” – and in this moment, surrounded by the inaneness of it all, I began to fear he was right.
In my defense, I put up the good fight – I tried to smile, to babble on like an idiot about how “omoshiroi” the difference in color between two different liqueurs were, to engage in superficial pleasantries – and I know, I know that at my core I was not giving them a fair shake – yet there remained something invisible, uncross able, insurmountable between us, and no matter what I tried, I found myself unable to resist the velveteen cloak of sullenness that continued to descend upon me, and my heart and thoughts inevitably to the fear and uncertainty surrounding my future, as the flickering candles and dimmed lights swirled around me though I was hardly drunk, and the occasional foray by various members of tonight’s party to see if I was okay or not were politely rebuffed, even as I struggled inside to come to grips with just why I was having such a rotten time…!?
I hate, absolutely hate the moody shell I found myself inexorably retreating into, but yet that night, I found myself desperately wishing someone I knew, someone I could relate to, would swoop in and take me away, some place far away, where the blanket of the night sky could cover me once again and I could speak truthfully, brutally, on the point about the tremendous pile of insecurities and fears that loomed tantamount over my head like some manner of terrifying onus.
Instead all I could find was myself painfully out of place here, a 23 year old, fresh-out-of-college pseudo-American kid replete with his full complement of fears and insecurities about the future surrounded by a group of 30 year old Japanese women, a couple with more than their fair share of fears and insecurities lurking just beneath the surface (one in particular, I see it, stalking her words behind her eyes when she speaks, and the venom drops ever so slightly, and if you watch closely, you can catch her bitterness in the silent spaces between her words, ten years of resentment and forlorn heart-ache and the torment of being self-aware of standing at such an unpleasant juncture yet being unable to tear herself away from it, and while I want to be her friend, am her friend, I cannot shake from my mind how similar she is to Theresa or Sue or Usui, and can I tell her how they ended up? or am I being presumptuous in assuming I know how it will all play out, though I already do? …sometimes, the honne doesn’t hide so well beneath the tatemae…)
and I can’t stand to listen to them talk about whatever the hell it is they’re talking about, and I can’t bring myself to retch up any more poitless conversation-driving drivel, can’t force a smile on my face any longer no matter how much I try, can’t feign interest in the apparently super-interesting orange-peel garnish adorning the side of a drink, and all I want to do is go out and get some fresh air, splash some water on my face, pinch myself to wake up, turn to another gajin in the know and nod with a knowning bittersweet smirk, extricate myself from a tremendously awkward social affair, divest myself of this sense of insecurity and sulleness that seems to have taken hold of me. and all I can think is what the fuck is up with this social ineptitude shit…!!?
I usually have no problem being pleasant with people and having a good time even when I’m not. Such the capacity for duplicity!! But sometimes, sometimes, for whatever reason – the alcohol doesn’t sit well, the people are burdened by other concerns, the planets are out of alignment, whatever! the vibe just is not there and it all goes to shit.
Tonight, the vibe was just not there, and what should have been a wonderful evening instead became a miserable, sodden, sullen shitty night.
Fuck it. It happens. But now as I am settling into bed, I realize that I am still very, very frightened about the future.
Now listening to: “ATB – Underwater World”
[EDIT]: Sorry, this was a “bitchfest” type of post. I remain firmly committed to continuing to study japanese, living in Japan, and all that other good stuff. But every once in a while we all have our “off” days, and the joys of associating wtih people ‘different’ than you can take its toll, when we’re down or slightly off-kilter, or vulnerable for whatever other reason. Those type of days, you just grin and bear it, bitch about it either to your friends, or else to the internet at large ;) get it all out of your system, then go from there. Today is a much better day.
10:21 pm

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