I rest my fingertips lightly on my glowing keyboard. time to meticulously carve out a blog post. 「久しぶり」 I say to myself, one of the japanese words I have down pat because I say it constantly. if only I said all japanese words constantly, I would be fluent by now. my year 2.0 in japan is beginning, apparently. I haven’t seen much from my bedridden state. the 31st of december 2014, I came down with a debilitating flu, rendering my body heavy and unstable.
I’ve scrolled through my instagram feed with varied levels of envy as people snap photos of their firsts of the new year. first food, first trip, first memories of 2015. I know my year will begin soon, I’ll catch up. I lay on my side and pull the covers up to my nose and imagine what is in store for me in the coming months. 2015 will be great, if I could just get out of bed. my spirits are high, this isn’t the end. I’m not kicking myself for not washing my hands enough during cold and flu season, because kicking would require energy I don’t have. to feel so weak and useless is so frustrating. it only reminds me to motivate myself to keep active so I won’t feel like this again when I reach 80.
lying awake at 4am stiff and unable to sleep, I think back at 2014. what an emotionally juxtaposed year that was. from aimless depression to near enlightenment. 2014 was concurrently the lowest of lows and the happiest and most content I’ve ever been in my life.
sitting inside our neighborhood all-night indian food restaurant that my roommate and I frequent, I watched the devastating blizzard wreak havoc on Metropolitan expressway no. 4. I was finished with my hot cassis and only had one thing on my mind: to film.
I watched through the window as the unforgiving winds continued to barrage endless amounts of snow in front of us. for a moment I imagined being out there in the shit. breaking (another) umbrella, getting pelted and stung in the face by ice crystals, my nose running, my feet wet and freezing, and not being able to feel my fingers. the thought was not welcoming.
I had my camera on me with my initial intentions staying clear. I really wanted to take a shot of a shrine I saw covered in snow on the other side of the highway. the thought of crossing the tundra of hell only faltered me with doubt for a second–I decided I hate regret more than I hate blizzards. I have reoccurring nightmares about regretting not documenting something that catches my eye. I’d rather be cold and uncomfortable to get the shot then at home, warm and lazy, without photo. this is how I’ve always lived my life and I should know myself by now.
saturday I rode my bike around, chasing shadows and light. I bundled up for late november but once I stepped outside, it wasn’t chilly out at all. in fact, it was a perfect day. it was like a late seattle summer, cold for californians and maybe too hot for pacific northwesterners. I was in 2 places at once. it reminded me of the home I left behind for the home I always held in my heart. I rode around my neighborhood searching for interesting shapes the sun created in the early afternoon. Sunday I was going to have my first test shoot with a japanese male model in training. my first test shoot since the moment I decided to deem/label myself a “photographer”.
as I walked home drunk, I was already conjuring up the exact sentences I wanted to type on my glowing keyboard. my brain began to predict what I wanted to say 20 minutes before I reached the ability to present my thoughts to the internet. I narrated my present for the future, but now I forget what was so great about it at the time.
I live a new life where drinking is the norm nearly every night. This happens because I befriended cute bartenders, japanese acquaintances, go clubbing, stay out all night, have access to cheap convenience store alcohol and live with a writer/ex-tokyo socialite who’s somewhat source of inspiration and socialization is whiskey. it’s also our part-time side job to get paid to drink. I have never drank so much in my life. I’m writing this drunk, although I feel of sound and mind (because I like to think I built up a tolerance) and have no idea when I have actually drank too much anymore until someone tells me the following day that I was really loud the previous night (excited, probably) and I discover mysterious bruises on body parts I don’t recall coming into contact with hard objects.
my eyes sting. lack of sleep, the awful fluorescent light or maybe the A/C blasting–a combination of all 3 probably. I spent most of the day a bit dizzy until I drank more alcohol at a gathering for a 3rd-tier k-pop star in a KBBQ oasis.
I feel like I am in a constant state of looking forward. I can’t remember where I have been because all I can concentrate on is worrying where I am going. It’s as if I fell asleep for a moment during a movie and I am trying to piece together everything else I missed. am I really in Tokyo? Wasn’t I just living in Seattle? no, I was in Seoul. it was cold there, what was I doing there. how did I survive with no money and no real job? How am I suddenly drenched in sweat in Tokyo when I recall being frozen every night in my basement apartment, awake at 4am drinking chicken broth and eating too much dark chocolate?
I had a dream that cockroaches were actually smarter than we thought, and had human emotions. earlier in the week I killed several cockroaches and I began to mull over my own existence after I sprayed them with death gas. I would watch as they rolled around on their backs and twitched their legs furiously in agony, until they slowed to a stop. then I leave the carcass there as a warning to the others. it reminds me of a joke on TV I couldn’t relate to at the time, having never seen a cockroach. but now I get the joke.
Echoing outside my open sliding glass door (with closed screen door) is the sound of video game selection screen sound effects. I can hear faint midi music and sudden bursts of laughter coming from young japanese men. they have a certain laugh, I can tell. Or I am in Japan, so it’s safe to assume they are Japanese.
Since I arrived in Japan, weird occurrences have been happening wildly. Now I can’t help but try to search for clues. when will the next bizarre coincidence happen? what is the universe trying to tell me? I am on the hunt for hints. ear to the ground, eye to the sky. maybe these things happen all the time anyway and no one takes the time to connect the dots. paying attention to the details makes a big difference day to day.
So, I’m out of money. utterly/completely. paid bills, paid rent (had to use my christmas money for this, I just wanted a coat, maybe a lamp… don’t I sound old timey levels of poor and pathetic? I kind of am) and scrounging for won to buy $13 strawberries because I need vitamin C (and something sweet).
What I mean to say is this blog and my site are about to go down. down into the pits of the internet because I don’t have the funds to keep it afloat right now.
1980s Tokyo, the sun has just set and the giant neon lights begin to buzz. A turn off the avenue leads to a maze of backstreets. the alleys grow darker and damper as you leave the main drag behind. less people, more trash cans. the sound of traffic and feet shuffling die down and a faint music grows louder. turning one last corner, a glow illuminates a dead end. it’s an underground music club. you wouldn’t have known it’s existence, unless you had been there before. it’s CITY HUNTER, a thriving soulful joint that has somehow sidestepped the flow of time.
a year ago today, I was in Tokyo. My life was great, although a challenge. I made my biggest dream come true of all time, I was living in Japan. Devin and I were only there a measly 6 weeks when the Sendai earthquake hit. we meant to stay at least 6 months. after the earthquake, explosions, tsunami, radiation, black-outs, food hoarding and general uncertainty, we had to leave the dream behind. a week later we left tokyo. 30 hours at the airport–the last place I ever wanted to be–and then back to Seattle.
I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish while I was there. I barely knew Japanese, but was just thrilled to wake up everyday and just BE in JAPAN. It was a very difficult route to get to Japan in the first place. I didn’t have a job, and I couldn’t teach English without a university degree. I found out I was allergic to tatami mats and we didn’t have very much money to spend on things like “heat” and “food”. I had a hot water bottle to put in my futon at night to try to stay warm. I ate triangle rice balls every day from the convenience stores. I was poor, cold, with limited funds to ride the subway and hustlin er’ry day to try and find work. but as far as I was concerned, I was living the dream! I was the happiest girl on the planet, in my mind!
I have never felt connected to a huge disaster before, even when they happened to America. I’m not sure why, I have plenty of empathy to go around. I’m not even sure just by me being there the day of the 9.0 earthquake, connected me in a way, because it was on another level I felt so heartbroken over what happened. I felt like an outsider (which I literally was) but I felt there was nothing we could do but get out of the way, I suppose.
every day after the earthquake was hundreds of aftershocks. some over 6.0 more than once a day. It was an adventure, to say the least. I saw the infamous Shibuya Crossing look like a ghost town. no one was at the crossing and all the giant skyscraper video screens were turned off. I am pretty sure very few people will ever see it look like that in their lifetime. bizarro land.
I can’t believe it’s been a year. it’s always interesting to think where you were a year ago today. or 2, or 3. time and life is linear, but I’m rarely ever thinking of the present. I’m always being nostalgic or thinking of the possibilities of the future. I think things are going pretty well right now, but all I want in life is to get back to Japan!