Journal

 

Thursday
Mar312016

The Highs and Lows of Women's Expectations

   During the bubble years in Japan, women were said to be looking for the “Three Highs” in men (3高): Height (高身長), High income (高収入), and High education (高学歴). (It was also preferable if the man was not the first-born son due to all the incumbent responsibilities.)

  In the ‘90s, the “Three Cs” were sought after: Comfortable (annual income over ¥7m), Communicative, and Cooperative (i.e. someone who helped around the house).

  In the 2000s, the Four Lows were popular with women (3低): Low Posture (低姿勢, humble), Low Dependency (低依存), Low Risk (底リスク), and Low Maintenance (低燃費).

  Today, modern Japanese women are said to be looking for the “Three Warms” (3温): Kindness, Affection and Peace of Mind. As for the Three Highs of the bubble years, Height now ranks 7th, High Income ranks 10th, and Income is 19th.

  Your thoughts?

Saturday
Mar052016

Jóie de Vivre in Hong Kong

  Donald Richie in one of his collections of essays wrote about the "narrowness" of the Japanese home forcing people to seek places to relax elsewhere--a favorite snack or kissaten (coffee shop). These, he wrote, were extensions of his home.

  I'm sure I have mis paraphrased that, but I couldn't help think about what the Japanologist wrote while I was wandering the streets of Hong Kong. Streets were like dry riverbeds between deep ravines, the walls of which were formed by impossibly tall, impossibly slim apartment buildings. 

  Google "small Hong Kong" apartment and you'll find photos of insane living conditions, little bigger a four-mat Japanese room.

  Decades ago, a girlfriend of mine went to Hong Kong to help her friend's flower buisness. "They slept on the kitchen floor!" She told me she returned. I couldn't imagine living conditions so cramped, but now that I've been, I can.

  Richie wrote of the cramped living conditions of the modern Japanese, but it isn't really that bad. My 4LD would probably house three to four middle class families. 

  Another thing, you can see further than fifty meters here. Visitors from HK to Fukuoka must feel free to be able to breathe when they're here.

 

 

 

 

Saturday
Mar052016

The Second Noble Truth

Taken at Hong Kong's Victoria Park

  The Origin of Dukkha is that craving for and clinging to what is pleasurable and aversion to what is not pleasurable result in becoming, rebirth, dissatisfaction, and redeath.

 

 

Saturday
Feb272016

FOB & A-OK

   One of my nephews arrived in Japan last week and stayed with me for several days before moving on to Okayama, where he will spend the next eight months as an assistant language teacher. His visit reminded me of the days when I myself first came to this country, back in the spring of ’92. Let me tell you, things couldn’t be more different today. Read More at Metropolis

Tuesday
Feb232016

Una Cama Vacía

My family in '71 or '72. I was the youngest of eleven brats at the time. Two more girls would pop out of my mother by and by, glutton for punishment that she was. My father worked part-time as Sadam Hussein double during the Iran-Iraq War.

An excerpt from my latest novella, A Woman's Hand, due out eventually. Funny how even fiction has a way of getting to the truth of things.

 

 

The women were a distraction.

From?

From the loneliness that was gnawing at me.

Loneliness?

I’ve always been a lonely person. Many people think that because I often spend time alone, I’m a loner, but nothing could be further from the truth: I crave to be with people. I don’t necessarily need to be the center of attention, but I do like to be surrounded by people.

Why do you think so?

I think it has something to do with growing up in a large family and being at the bottom of the totem pole, so to speak. I was called the “Baby of the Family” as if I were babied, but the fact of the matter is, the lower you are on that totem pole the less of your parents’ tender loving care you receive.

Oh?

Listen: when the first child trips and falls, the parents scoop the child up into their arms and comfort it. The second child gets a hug and some encouragement. The third, a pat on the head. The fourth is told to walk it off. The fifth gets scolded for making so much goddamn noise.

And the sixth?

He’s told he’ll be given something to really cry about if he doesn’t stop crying right this second.

It must be terrible to be the seventh child.

Oh, the seventh child has it easy: the parents are so tired of raising children by then that he usually gets forgotten or neglected. Neglect would have been like a walk in the park on a sunny afternoon compared to what I had to contend with as a child.

Such as?

Older brothers showing their fraternal affection through the administration of the daily Wedgie, Titty-twister, Wet Willy, and other indignities. So, as a consequence of the mild neglect of my parents and quotidian physical and emotional abuse by siblings I developed this inclination for melancholy and loneliness.

Has sleeping around ever helped?

Helped what?

Tame that gnawing loneliness.

Gabriel García Márquez wrote that . . .

Gabo again?

His is the Maestro. He wrote that there was no place in life sadder than an empty bed.[1]

Oh? I can think of places that are worse.

A tad hyperbolic, perhaps, but true, nonetheless. My bed today is far from empty—three young boys sleeping between my wife and me, tangled limbs and leaking diapers and I’m constantly rolling over onto Tomica die-cast cars, Lego blocks, and Kamen Rider blasters—and I couldn’t be happier. When my second son woke the other night to find his younger brother sleeping on my chest he cried, “No! No! No! My Daddy! My Daddy!” Now that I think about it, I haven’t felt lonely or sad since I became a father five years ago. Am I tired? Yes. Woozy from sleep deprivation? Yes! But lonely or sad? No, not at all. As for the sleeping around helping, I would have to say, no, it did not help.

 


[1] The original quote is “Ninguin lugar en la vida más triste que una cama vacía.” Another good one from El Coronel ne tiene quién le escriba is “No hay medicina que cure lo que no cura la felicidad.” (There is no medicine that cures what happiness cannot.)

 

Tuesday
Feb232016

My fingers come to a rest

My fingers come to a rest on the keyboard.

Is this really writing?

So calculated. Each sentence is.

Back space. Correct. Rewrite. Save. Tappity-tap.

Back space. Correct. Rewrite. Save. Tappity-tap. 

Spontaneity has been lost, the flow of words dammed up. Tappity-tap. Back space. Correct. Rewrite. 

How long did it take me to write a grammatically correct, yet insipid and meaningless sentence?

Fuck computers!