We Apologize For The Brief Delay

Okay, I'm back. It turns out I have longer things to write again, and I still have this LJ account, so I guess I'll use this for long-form writing, Tumblr for the photography, Twitter for smart-aleck remarks, and Facebook for whatever it is that Facebook does.

I've been feeling the need to write Japan stories lately, partly out of nostalgia, but also because I'm now on track to get back there. I'm studying Japanese at the college level now, which is something I really wanted to do the first time I was in college. The college I'm attending here has transfer arrangements with Ritsumeikan APU and Temple U Japan, so if I can keep my grades up I'm pretty sure to get into one or the other.

Also, I've been writing more for school, which has kind of reawakened my writing muscles.

Now, what sort of Japan stories will I be writing? Pretty much whatever stories I feel like telling, really. I've been there on vacation several times and lived there for about five years, so there are lots of stories. But I think the problem I ran into when trying to tell these stories before was in trying to tell the whole tale in some sort of chronological order.

That's too limiting. I think I'm going to just write about whatever sort of Japan thing I feel like writing about, with my usual run-on sentences, bizarre parenthetical asides, and general lack of editing or any sort of coherent narrative structure.

The stories will basically take place in one of several periods. Here are some loose definitions.

First Trip was just that; a three week trip I took to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and Hiroshima at the end of 2000. I was working for a company in Seattle and living on Bainbridge Island, and had just come off a fairly stressful year.

Then in early 2003 I moved to Kyoto; I got a job working for a place which I referred to as "Hollywood Upstairs English School." This was the largest employer of foreign nationals in Japan at that time, with schools all over Japan. There were three periods to my living there.

First, I lived in a smallish dorm. I had my own room, but a shared Japanese-style toilet and shared kitchen. I worked in Kyoto Station, first on the tenth floor of a department store, then we moved to one of the basement levels of the station.

After about a year, I moved into a really nice little townhouse with Yoshimi. (More about her later. Or perhaps not.) We lived there for a year and a half, until she moved to Canada to study English and I couldn't afford the rent. During this time, I mostly worked at a school in Nagaoka Tenjin, a suburb of Kyoto on the way to Osaka.

Finally, I moved into a cool little apartment right on the river in an old building called Eirakuso. I worked a deal where I cut back my hours but still kept the same pay, and also got transferred to a school in Kitaoji, only about a fifteen-minute walk or a five-minute bike ride from school.

So I guess we'll call those the "Dorm," "House," and "Eirakuso" periods.

I came back to America and started driving a big rig, and went back to Japan two more times.

I went to Tokyo and Kyoto with my best friend Martial in March 2010. We stayed in the dorm where I used to live and generally had a pretty great time.
We'll call that Second Trip.

Third Trip took place in September of 2011. I was just coming off a really horrible, I don't know, relationship, I guess, so I took a couple of weeks and hid out in my friend Beni's guest house in Kyoto. I played a couple of gigs and wandered around and mostly recovered from things. I also spent about seven hundred dollars on clothes at UNIQLO.

So, that's where it stands for now. I'm starting to think about another trip, but I need to get the money thing sorted first. Maybe this will hold me for the time being.

Oh Yeah

Well, as needs change, so must the tools we use to meet them. I've been over on Tumblr for a little while now, at  It's a little more in line with what I'm trying to do now, which is shorter writing and more audio/visual stuff.  I'm doing a LOT more music and photography now, and LJ is less well-suited for that.  Plus Tumblr allows me to cross-post at Twitter and Facebook and Flickr, all at once.

I'll keep this blog for the time being, mostly because it's a pretty good record of the time I spent in Japan, but if you want to see what I'm up to, go to the other thing there.

And, who knows?  If I need to wrote more long-form stuff, I'll fire this back up.


Sorry it's been a while but I've been busy.

One of the things I've been busy doing is reading old archive entries from when I lived in Japan, until I realized just how counterproductive that is. I'm going to get back there, and real soon, too.

Other than that, just trying to stay sane by working on a bunch of stuff. A bunch of stuff.

The prospect of the trip to Kyoto and these projects are pretty much the only things that keep me getting up at four AM and driving into work in the pitch-black freezing cold.


Called Yoshimi and finally got through. She's fine, although there's a little trouble getting some kinds of food at the supermarket.

This makes sense; Japan is really compartmentalized as far as food production goes. For instance, if Hokkaido were to get smeared somehow, all of Japan's ham, beef, and cheese production would be done for.

She's also having some trouble at work; she works for a freight forwarding company, so one can imagine all the logistical nightmares going on over there.

So I got caught up with her and rang off, happy that she's safe and even more so to talk with her again.
I got back in the truck and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Then I heard on the radio about the aftershock in Shizuoka, where Yoshimi's family live.


No bad news yet, though.

So Far

I haven't heard from Yoshimi yet; she lived out near Narita the last I heard.

The morning of the earthquake, Martial pointed out that exactly one year ago to the day, we were in Tokyo, hanging around Shinjuku, Jimbocho, and Kichijoji with Yoshimi, Beni, and Akane.

I hope everyone is okay.


Okay, real quick, then I'm going to bed. I've been just knackered all day, plus it was snowing like crazy in North Bend. Then they closed the Interstate, at the exit to our warehouse, so I had to drive in the long way, which is less than fun in a big truck.

1. I didn't have to wait for any loads today. (That's always a good thing, since the waiting is the part that kills me. If I can keep moving I'm much better off and I can get home at a decent hour.)

2. Despite the snow in NB, it was actually warmer than it has been recently.

3. Today is R. Steven's birthday. I went to his party Saturday night and saw many people I hadn't seen in quite some time.

4. I listened to a recording of the Valentine's Day Cara and I did, and I was able to identify many areas for improvement, without, and this is important, completely tearing myself apart and constantly belittling myself.

Okay, let's take a knee for a second and discuss that last one. I think a large part of my increased ability to self-criticize in an honest and constructive manner is a result of my current job.

I know. I'm shocked too.

But, when I started this new job about a year ago, I was convinced that I was never going to be as good, or as fast, or as skilled as some of the other guys on the team.

Over time, I just realized that I would have to just do the best job that I possibly could, and trust in my ability to learn, both by observation, and by mistakes. (Also by doing, the importance of which cannot be overstated.)

I think that, by just sticking with it and doing what I had to do, and by improving incrementally, I've given myself the chance to learn things properly.

Anyway, difficult to explain, and I don't want to sound like one of those boring Estevez children. Moving on.

5. I got my goals for this week sorted out, and I'm working on them. You can read more about that, if your life is that sorely devoid of excitement, by clicking on my "Friends" tab and looking for johngoals. It's kind of dry, but I'm trying to keep it simple, just the information I need to track my progress.

Okay: shower and bed.
Cardbo 2

Gonna Sleep Now

Five Awesome Things:

1. Got my goals sorted yesterday and set up a new LJ to track them;

2. Sang last night at Tula's;

3. Made myself an EXCELLENT baked salmon fillet for dinner;

4. Going to sleep early for once;

5. Didn't have to do too much at work today.
Baby Blank


Been so busy enjoying my three-day weekend that I haven't posted up my Five Good Things.

1. I won yet another argument with my doctor.

2. I went and purchased actual spiffy clothing from a REAL shop, not just some ten-dollar jeans from Wal-Mart.

3. I had Mongolian Grill for dinner last night (allowed, if you pick the right stuff). Genghis Khan in Federal Way is becoming my new Saturday night thing.

4. Gonna have teriyaki (also allowed, if you pass on the rice and instead have double salad) and gyoza for dinner.

5. I don't have to work tomorrow.

San Pellegrino Is Delicious

Today's Five Awesome Things:

1. It snowed a bit, but didn't stick; then it just got sunny.

2. Found out today that I have a three-day weekend coming up.

3. Getting ready to plan the next show with Cara.

4. Got home to find my DVD set of season 4 of Ranma 1/2 has arrived from Amazon.

5. I rediscovered a CD by Roger Joseph Manning Jr. that I forgot I purchased, and only listened to once. It popped up on shuffle on the iPod on the way home from work. Dang. It's good.