May 28, 2000
11:01 pm
Right now I'm feeling: All right

Right now I'm listening to: Random J-Pop stuff; here's one of 'em... Yuko Arai

Yuko Arai : Don't Fool Yourself

  Quote of the Day:
"Make a true estimate of your own ability, then raise it 10 per cent."
-- Norman Vincent Peale

Hot Nights

Not hot in the exciting, sweating-bodies, erotic, passion-filled nights like in the movies or the journals of more exciting personas (c'mon! You guys know me by now!). Literally, I mean. Hot. As in temperature. It's getting hot these days. Muggy. I've even used my air conditioner at night (though, still haven't put away my kerosene heater, I'll do that as soon as I clean up this sty and find some actual space in my closet to store it). With the onset of June comes humidity and rain. Something I am definitely not looking forward to (you try riding a bicycle to work in the rain!).

So, a few days ago I mentioned how I was going to try the Tylenol PM for the first time. And let me tell you, that stuff works like a goddam charm! I couldn't believe it. When I wake up I don't have any trouble getting out of bed. It was weird. Usually, I'm really groggy in the morning. Takes me like a half hour to get my ass out of bed and into the shower. And I usually have some sense of the dreams or nightmares I had and how often I woke up during the night, but when I've waken up these past few days... well, my mind was... blank. I don't think I woke up at all during the night, or had any dreams. Which is fantastic. The only real side effect I've noticed is an increased tendancy for my extremites to fall asleep quicker if I'm seated on tatami or in an uncomfortable position. The first day I did feel a little stiff, a little tired during the day, but that's probably because I didn't get enough sleep the night before anyway.

I feel a little strange about this. I am extremely paranoid about dependencies of any kind. I don't like the idea that I have to take something just to get a decent night's rest... I should be able to do that by myself. But I guess I'm not. OK, I'll admit this temporary failure of mine. This stuff won't solve my problem (if I have one), but it'll provide some temporary relief.


Today I went with Aya to her university's bi-annual festival in Osaka. Wieners on sticks, takoyaki (bits of octopus in dough), garage-sale clothes, and live music. Everything the body needs. Her university campus is really big, I was surprised considering what a premium land is here. It was pretty cool. I got to meet her best friend, eat some Japanese fast food, listen to the Japanese college students try to make rock and roll, and had a heated argument with Aya about applied existentialism.

Oh, yeah. There was that one little snag.

It was a pretty good day until that train ride back. I can't even remember exactly what we were talking about, but she said something like she had to do something (consistently, as in personality-wise), and I said that she didn't really have to do it if she didn't want to, and she replied that she did and I asked why and she said, "Because I'm Japanese".



I swear, if I hear this one more time as a response to an honest question I'm gonna frickin strangle that person. The most angering thing about the Japanese is their acceptance of personality characteristics based on cultural precepts. It drives me into a fury.

I tried to explain to her that she doesn't have to do anything she doesn't want to and that she was trying to shift the responsibility for her actions onto peer pressure and how ridiculous it was to think that peer pressure limits her free will, and she said that I didn't really undertand her, her people, or anything about Japan. I tried to explain that we all have choices, and she said that Americans have choices because of their culture, but she must do things and act a certain way because she must, and I told her that the fact that she can observe this indicates that she can choose otherwise, she didn't agree and was on the point of tears, which is when I let the argument slide.

The whole argument took only 10 minutes or so, but seemed like it lasted the entire train ride back (about one hour). Probably because neither one of us had anything to say to eachother after the argument. I didn't want her to break out in tears in front of everyone on the train (that would be unmanageably shameful for her). It was like talking to a brick wall. My arguments were impervious, of course (hey, five years of philosophy have got to be worth something, right?)

Damn. That shit pisses me off.

Somehow, I've got to open her eyes to see the blinding light from the lamp of pure reason.

Digitalism: Revisited

I finally decided on a digital camera. It was a tough one. Do I go with the Sony S30 with the USB interface and flip-LCD display or the Fuji 1700Z, which is half the size, but weak on flash? I opted to go with the Sony... the camera I buy has got to have a good flash. Unfortunately, of the four major electronic stores in town, only one of them carries that model and they're out of stock.

I wanted to know how long it'd take to restock the camera. I asked one of the sales clerks in the store this and I think she told me that they wouldn't be getting any more at all. I asked her to speak slowly, because my Japanese is not that great, but she repeated herself at the same speed and didn't give me a date, time or day of the week. It sounded like a runaround answer. Y'know that feeling you get when you're sure that the employee you're speaking to has no idea what he/she is talking about even though you yourself have no knowledge about the item in question? I got that feeling today talking to her. I hate that. I asked her if they could special order one, but she said it would be "very difficult" which, in Japanese, means "No frickin way".

Folks, about 93% of the employees in retail stores in Japan are absolutely worthless. You can walk into a store and be greeted enthusiastically with a smile and a bow, but ask them a specific question and they look like they'd been dropped off by the bus at the wrong stop. They know absolutely nothing. Sure, this is true about certain stores just about anywhere, but I have found it to be more prevalent, by far, here on this little island. Walk into just about any store and there's 4X the number of employees as actual customers. There's an employee to hold the door open for you, one whose job it is to bow as you come in, one to push the button for the elevator, one to stand behind the information desk (who, of course, knows nothing), one to carry your selection to the counter, one to ring your purchase up, and one to bag it up for you. Ah, yes. The efficiency of the Japanese employment ethos. Do nothing, but do it splendidly. That's harsh, but ... hey. It's true, you know? At least they're polite... most of the time. (Though, if you're in the store around closing time, you'd better get your ass out of there quick or they'll probably throw you out. I've been in a few places around closing time and they're pretty... direct at that time.)

So, I left and came back four hours later, hoping that a shift change would move her out and move in an employee of the non-worthless variety, which it did. The new salesman was very helpful and told me that if they special ordered it, it should be there in about two weeks. Ok, cool. I've waited this long for a digital camera, two more weeks won't kill me.

Little Girls

Let me just make this clear right now... I'm not a pervert. I'm not like every Japanese man here... after some little schoolgirl in a rolled up skirt/baggy socked uniform. I like my women older, educated, intelligent, and with some work experience.

That said, I just found out today from Aya and her friend, that Mai Kuraki (I loaded two of her hit singles, Love, Day After Tomorrow and Stay by My Side, with journal entries) is in junior high school. DAMN!! Who would've thought??? I thought she was like twenty something! It's totally impossible to tell the age of any Japanese woman.. or girl for that matter. We were talking about pop stars, I happened to mention that I thought Mai Kuraki was hot and they turned a serious eye on me...

Aya: So, Jeff.. do you like many little Japanese girls at your schools?

Jeff: Huh? What the hell are you talking about?

Aya: No, it's ok. I understand... many men do.

Oh, speaking of J-Pop, I think I'll probably add selected songs from my journal into the Jukebox when I move my site to a new server. Which I'll do as soon as I get the domain name I've been waiting for. Should be within a month. Stay tuned!

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