Thursday, April 30, 2009

journey to america (part dos)

A flurry of faces and palces. Wanting to cling to moments with friends and family that I haven't seen for years and years.

In Seattle I first met up with my frail grandmother and her boyfriend. They got lost, and wandered around the airport until they found me a few hours later. We walked out to their car, and we made our way to a Denny's American Style Restraunt. While I munched on my country fried steak with gravy and hash browns, my grandmother's boyfriend Bob told me about his bad knee and all the medicine he has been taking for it. Doctors, medicine, drugs, medicare, problems, never listen to me, my bad knee, doctors.

After that, my friend Tanya and her new husband Matt picked me up and we went out to eat Mexican food. American-sized food, stuffed to the gills. Tanya and Matt recently moved back from Japan to America, in to the rhythm of life, starting to live a new way again. Moments spun around as we got a few beers and I got asked for ID I didn't have. Tips, bars, English conversation failing me.

Before I knew it, Cory passed the baton with Tanya and I was riding in his sportsy car towards his house to crash that night. I hadn't seen him in such a long time, and it was fun to slip back into that conversational tempo we used to have when we were both exchange students in Korea. Life continues.

The next day, Cory passed the baton quickly Yvonne. I met her at a supermarket, and we ate vegan sandwhiches and salmon soup. Yvonne's new boyfriend turned out to be someone I knew in college, and that kept the conversation afloat. After a quick conversation with her, she tossed me in the direction of my good friend Christina and Alisa. We walked around downtown a bit, eyeballed a youth hostel, got me a cheap $16 prepaid cellphone, and went out to eat at a fancy restraunt with german beer. They wanted ID again, time to dig through my bag to find my ID. The conversation and moments mangled together a bit like multiflavored icecream on a summer day. In moments I was off checking into a youth hostel and heading towards to sleep.

The next day I met my cool friend Nicky. When I left America he had just got married, and now he had two talkative young kids who couldn't stop showing me their cool toys. I helped him plan for a Movie he was trying to make for a festival. The actors came, the cameras rolled, the people did their magic things. Once again a blur of moments heading towards the next moment. With a couple of beeps my brother Ben was outside in his car, giving me a ride towards my small rustic childhood home.

{{To be continued...}}

Friday, April 24, 2009

journey to america (part uno)

I wake up early, sleepy. Nerves kept me awake the night before. I check my bags once more, pull them up around my shoulders and head to the airport.

At the "self check in" counter an agent tries to do it for me. I point out the "self" in "self check in" but he insists. I get a bit annoyed and explain I can do it. He literally puts his hands on me to push me away, I slap off his hands and he finally relents. I forget about it as I go through the gates and board the plane. I'm sitting on the plane as other passengers board, we're going to take off soon. A big shouldered security man comes up to the man sitting next to me and asks him if he is me. I offer that I'm me. And he asks me to come with him to the back of the plane and he begins to launch into a conversation about "physical assault" and what not and at first I have no idea what he is talking about. Then I remember the check-in agent. The security man is in a huff, clearly wanting to cause a scene. So I try to flip it around. I tell him I wasn't angry about the check-in man touching my arm, even though it wasn't appropriate. I say that although airline employees shouldn't be touching their customers, I wasn't upset about it and he shouldn't get the guy in trouble. Caught by surprise he says something about how he thinks I misunderstand the situation. I mention that we are all adults and should act that way. He lets me go after a bit of more defused steam. Not kicked off the plane, I gratefully return to my seat.

After a cry-baby flight I touch down to a rain-drenched Seattle. I ask the immigration officer if I should check resident since I am a US Citizen or check visitor since I am only coming to visit friends and family and will return to Japan after that. He eyeballs me. "That depends on how long you been away and if you plan on ever living here again--- how long you been away?" I tell him six years and he asks me to repeat. He seems amazed, which puzzles me. You'd think a border guard would deal with such travelers often. He then asks me if I ever want to live in the United States again. I'm not sure he wants to hear me say no so I tell him that I'm young and haven't decided anything yet. He watches me silently for what seems like a long time, then he says "Welcome back to America." and stamps my passport.

But I'm not in yet. They tell me at bag check that they have to search my bag in the back room. A big portly man with a short slender assistant are standing next to various X-ray machines. The big man asks, "Is this your bag, sir?" I nod, and begin to open the bag for him. He enters 'panic mode' and his left hand hovers above what I guess was a teaser, his right hand popping out like a stop sign. "Step back, sir." He belts out, adding "I'm a trained professional." They tare into my bags, my items going every which way. They finally procure a small cube of packaged soup I bought at the travel department of a shop in Japan. "This has beef in it, sir. Trying to bring in beef can result in a $300 fine." I explain my honest mistake and he lets me go. I pack up all my stuff, and step into America again.

{{To be continued...}}

Saturday, April 11, 2009

circadian rhythms

My days blend into patterns, sounds, repeated moments. If I'm home, its 5 o'clock when the neighborhood cult begins banging their drums, and about 6 when they finish. It was 8 o'clock when through my thin walls I could hear my nextーdoor neighbor starting a bath, recently her hours at work must have changed her two year habbit though. The porno shop stairs also moved out last week, so the shutters closing at 2 in the morning can no longer be my get to bed notice.

My morning meal tends to be a pattern too. Fruit juice and a tuna flavored seaweedーrice triangle. Not that I prefer tuna, the pattern just makes selection simple.

I tend to think the same thoughts even, repeat, repeat, rephrase, repeat. Not that I'm saying thats a bad thing or a good thing. It's just human existance.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

drunk conversation

I'm drunk. My head is dizzy, another 7 minutes until my last train comes. I decide to sit down on the train platform. The train platform man comes up to me:
Train Platform Man: "Mr. Passenger, please stand up."
Me: "This is the yellow safety line, this is me [behind it] so I'm OK."
TPM: "Stand now, it's dangerous."
Me: "I'm drunk, so standing is more dahhhngeruus"
TPM: "If the train driver sees you, he will be perplexed by your sitting down. Stand up now!"
Me: "You are standing in fuh-ront of the yehhhlow line-e so youre more dangerous"
TPM: "Mr. Passanger, stand up now or I will move you by force."
Me: "Whathehec..."
Train Platform Man pushes me full force against the pillar in the station, I feel my drunk back slap against the hard surface.
Me: "Youre soh frhickin annoying..." But by now the train is coming, TPM keeps his needle hands on me until the train comes to a stop and then he abruptly leaves. I stumble on to the train. Moral of the story? Swaying around near the platform gap seems to be OK but don't sit down to attain stability or TPM will come get you.
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