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Entries in Rokuban (6)

Friday
Aug112017

Kampai! is Out!

A very, very nice surprise this morning.

My latest work, Kampai, has managed to break the top ten in Japan. 

I'm not crazy about the cover, to be honest. And, the final product is very different from what I intended to write, but, but, but, there's still a lot of interesting information thrown in with anecdotes of my life in Japan. A Kampai! 2 is in the works, and may come out perhaps next year.

Lemme tell ya, this has been perhaps the most productive nine months of my life. In addition to the dozen or so articles I have written for a number of different sites, mags, and journals, I have pumped out:

a new novel (A Woman's Hand), rewritten another (Rokuban), gotten half done on a third (A Woman's Tears),

two works of nonfiction (Kampai, Boys Have Dingdongs),

a collection of essays and stories (🖤 FUK, due out soonish),

a photo collection (Covered), 

and, two textbooks (Speak Up!).

(Phew!)

I hope the next 12 months will be as productive or more.

 

For more on my writing go here.

 

Thursday
Dec042014

Pitter-Patter

Feels like Groundhog’s Day today.

 

3:30am

Liam wakes up, crying. We give him a half bottle, not too much because he’ll probably throw it all up. Ten minutes later, he’s asleep again. Figuring I might as well get up and get some work done, I go into the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee.

 

4:00am

I’m at my desk. As I’m writing down my goals for December, one of which is to finish the current version of Rokuban once and for all, I hear the pitter-patter of Liam’s feet.

“What is it?”

“Mama. Mama.”

“Where’s Mama?”

“Mama ne-ne.”

“Mama’s sleeping?”

“Un.” (Yes.)

“Do you want to lie down with Daddy?”

“Un.”

I pick Liam up and take him back to the futon. He insists on lying just to my right. That’s where Eoghan usually sleeps and in Liam’s mind it is a position of privilege. I scoot over so that my wife Rié is on my left, Liam on my right, and Eoghan beyond him.

Before long, Eoghan wakes up, finds his position being usurped by the upstart Liam and begins kicking and pushing. I put Liam back between me and Rié. After a while, both boys calm down and fall back asleep.

Or so I think. As soon as I sit up, Liam opens his eyes and gives me a look as if to say, “Where the fuck you going?”

I lie back down and rub his back, run my fingers through his long, curly hair. Every now and again, he looks to see if I am still there. When he’s finally snoring, I head back to my office.

 

4:30am

My coffee is getting cold. I’m getting cold. The wind is still strong outside. The windows whistle with excitement. I hear the bedroom door slide open, then closed, the hallway door open, steps, then Liam’s voice, “Daddy. Daddy.”

I open the door and find Liam standing there, rubbing his eyes, his hair wild.

“Hold me.”

I pick him up and take him back to the futon. He’s asleep in no time.

 

5:00am

My coffee is now cold. I’ve been up for an hour and a half and all I have written is: “Finish Rokuban.”

Pitter-patter.

Sighing, “At this rate, I won’t be finishing anything.”

I pick Liam up and feel his diaper. Full tank. I get a fresh diaper and carry him back to the bedroom.

The nice thing about Liam is that for a two-year-old he is remarkably meticulous. He closes doors behind himself, he puts the caps back on the pens when he’s finished drawing, he returns his plates to the kitchen after eating, he throws his diapers in the garbage, he goes to the toilet himself, and when he’s done removes the potty trainer and puts it back in its place. Eoghan, on the other hand, has a habit of tossing everything onto the ground.

So, I change the boy’s diaper and lie down next to him one more time.

“Liam, baby.”

That means Liam wants to lie down on Daddy’s chest. He crawls up on top of me, yawns, and falls asleep.

The boy is getting big. In the past few months, he grew about four or five centimeters. As he is lying on my chest, his toes touch my knees and the top of his head is only a few months of growth away from touching my chin. I give that mop of hair of his a kiss, then slowly lower him down to my side.

 

5:30am

I make myself a fresh cup of coffee and head back down the hall to my office.

We have finally managed to get through the night without either of the boys vomiting. Progress! Now to make some progress on my writing.

 

 

Tuesday
Nov112014

On DJs

Found this in my notes for Rokuban, the rewrite of which I've been laboring over for the past year. Almost done, thank God. Time to move on to other works.*

 

Dé Dale would still call me up every now and again to tell me that there was a good party going on here, or that a famous DJ was performing there, but my heart wasn’t into it anymore. I had spent years with him going to the clubs and to what end? I hardly ever met women I was interested in, and I couldn’t for the life of me get what it was the DJs were doing?

“They’re just spinnin’ vinyl right?”

“It’s more than that,” dé Dale would try to explain. “They read the crowd; they control the mood.”

“Yeah, but in the end all they’re doing is putting LPs on a turntable, right? It’s not as if they’re making the music themselves? They’re just nerdy guys with massive record collections.”

“Some of them are musicians, too,” he replied.

“So what you’re telling me is that most of these guys are not musicians. They’re just guys playing other musician’s records. I don’t get it. Look, I’m feeling tired. I’m going home.”

“Oh, don’t be such an old man.”

“I am an old man and I’m outta here.”

“Let’s go out for drinks later in the week.”

“Fine, see you then.”

 

 

*The present version of Rokuban will no longer be available at the end of this year. A new version, the eighth draft, will be available for download in the new year. Selected chapters will be posted at that time.

Monday
Jul012013

Getting to the top of Mt. Fuji

Azami: Why haven't you gotten divorced yet?  

Rémy: It isn't that simple, really. It's awfully easy to get married here, but once your in the koseki (戸籍, family register), it's hard to get out; especially now that women have got it into their silly heads that they can not only sue their ex-husband for half of his assets but now feel entitled to it.

Azami: Yes, well why not?

Rémy: Many reasons. One, in many cases the woman did not directly have a hand in the success of her husband. If she did, well then that’s another story. And, two, you can't have it both ways.

Azami: I don't understand.

Rémy: You can't demand equal rights, the same opportunities as men, the same pay as men, the same career choices as men—all things I agree with—but then, claim that the men have the obligation to support you or to split half of their property and belongings.

Azami: You know, I never thought about it that way.

Rémy: You're not alone. Women also demand that we try to understand them, that we have a moral duty to do so, and what's more, they expect us to renounce our masculinity and act more like them, as if they are paragons of virtue worthy of emulation. But, you know what?

Azami: No, what?

Rémy: You're not. You're irrational and moody, capricious and unpredictable. You blame it on your period and expect us to just accept it. If we don't, we're called insensitive Neanderthals.

Azami: Anyways, when do you think you'll get divorced?

Rémy: Hard to say.

Azami: Honey, do you expect me to just wait for you forever?

Rémy: No. (The thought of another woman waiting impatiently for me to get divorced so that she could move in wasn't what you would call an encouraging prospect. Azami couldn't understand that I wasn't seeking a divorce so that I could be with her, I was doing so to be free again.)

Azami: Well, what am I supposed to do, then?

Rémy: You're a big girl, you decided.

Azami: I can't believe you said that.

Rémy: Look, I don't want to have an argument over this; it won't change anything.

Azami: But I want you to change. I'm tired of this.

Rémy: And so am I. More than you can probably imagine. 

Azami: So, what am I supposed to do?

Rémy: I've told you many times before what I must do between now and then. They have nothing to do with how badly I want out of the marriage, but everything to do with my life after marriage. Once those things have been dealt with, I can talk to her about breaking up.

Azami: Will you really get divorced? Sometimes I think maybe he won't leave her, maybe he still loves her . . .

Rémy: Don't be ridiculous.

Azami: What else am I supposed to think?

Rémy: I think the best way to explain this is for you to consider Mount Fuji. Yuko and I have taken a bus up to the half-way point. There wasn't any effort required to get there, and now that we're there we see that there's a long climb remaining till we reach the top. We're already tired from the ride. It's cold out and we're not quite prepared for the climb. Neither of us thought it would be so difficult. Tired as I am, I still want to get off the bus, and start climbing, but Yuko's having second thoughts. I have to convince her to go up the last 2 kilometers and make her understand that no matter how difficult the climb may be, once at the top we will agree that it was worthwhile. 

Azami: Hurry up! Get off the bus, honey!

Rémy: I am! I am! Oh shit, I forgot my boots. Hold on! I'm coming, I'm coming!

 

 

   I meant to add the above conversation to my novel Rokuban, but it didn't quite make the cut. Perhaps in a later edition.

© Aonghas Crowe, 2010. All rights reserved. No unauthorized duplication of any kind.

注意:この作品はフィクションです。登場人物、団体等、実在のモノとは一切関係ありません。

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Rokuban - No. 6 and other works by Aonghas Crowe are available at Amazon.

Sunday
Mar242013

Rokuban, a Novel

 

   You’re fucked if you get arrested in Japan.

   Japanese judges convict with such vengeance that defendants hauled before a court of law have less than a one in one thousandth of a chance of being let off.

   Listen: once arrested in Japan, the odds are stacked heavily against the suspect. In a typical year such as 2006, when 153,000 unlucky bastards—including the protagonist of this novel—were taken into police custody, only 3% were released within the first seventy-two hours of their arrest. The remaining were detained, often held incommunicado, for the next ten days where most were brow-beaten or even tortured into signing written confessions. In 54% of those cases, prosecutors requested an extension of detention in order to continue with their investigation, while another 28% who had already cracked were prosecuted outright, their confessions becoming the most damning piece of evidence used against them.

   Judges in Japan, far from being impartial adjudicators, rubber-stamp the paperwork of prosecutors, rejecting in 2006 a mere 70 out of their 74,000-plus requests for extensions of detention (less than one-tenth of one percent). The vast majority of those kept behind bars while they have confessions coerced out of them—excuse me, have their cases are “investigated”—end up being charged with crimes. Again, over 99% of these are then found guilty and sentenced.

   Surely, some of them are innocent.

   While the Gospel according to John may say that the truth will set you free, in the courts of Japan, truth can be the very slipknot they hang you with. So, what can you do if you are brought before the juggernaut that is Japan’s Ministry of Justice?

   Lie, lie, lie.

   Rokuban (No.6), a fast-paced novel about how an American expat beats these formidable odds, offers not only a satirical look into Japan’s Kafkaesque system of justice and the bizarre, sometimes humorous life behind bars, but also gives a fresh perspective on drug-use in Japan today.

   In the parlance of Hollywood, it is Midnight Express meets The Usual Suspects meets Lost in Translations.

 

Wednesday
Feb062013

Many Thanks, Amy!

   I have no idea who Amy is, but I do appreciate her taking the time to write the following review of my novel, Rokuban:

  "This was a good read. You won't have to force yourself to get through any of the chapters, the bits of humor throughout the book are always keeping you interested and turning to the next page. Mr. Crowe did a nice job with this one. The characters were realistic enough in terms of personality and the background just right. Most of the surrounding characters were completely likable even if there was not much background on them. I did not find myself actually liking main character, he was typical guy and his opinion on a few subjects didn't exactly make him endearing. Despite that I found myself interested in whether he and his friends would make it through his predicament intact. I'll mention again this story is both funny and serious at the same time. You won't want to stop reading until you've gotten to the end."

   Thanks again!

 

© Aonghas Crowe, 2010. All rights reserved. No unauthorized duplication of any kind.

注意:この作品はフィクションです。登場人物、団体等、実在のモノとは一切関係ありません。

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Rokuban - No. 6 and other works by Aonghas Crowe are available at Amazon.