Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

The Frat Party Scene

 

 

James wearing the Asshole hat

James wearing the Asshole hat

Random Observation/Comment #107: I always wondered about the contrast of lifestyles and work ethics between Cooper Union students and students at other colleges.  I feel like a frog stuck in a well thinking the sky is only as big as the surface area I see when I look up (old Chinese fairy tale).  I’ve never experienced that feeling of indifference towards studies, and a complete devotion towards that over-booked class of Drinkology 101.  This weekend was that chance to wear their shoes.  I lived that alternative future and realized that I would probably never be able to continue this lifestyle for more than two weeks in a semester.  I had an itch to do something with my time, and the apparent lack of any pulse of activity put me into a comatose state.  My brain slowly deteriorated as I lost a sense of willpower.  The hunger has always been strong, but on that opened futon and warm comforter, I loss that desire to learn something new for the day.  I felt so satisfied just lying there; drifting in and out of sleep.  Laziness was not completely my problem – It was the fact that I rationalized my laziness with some sense of earning this time to let myself go.  Shouldn’t I do what I consider relaxing?  Do I need to conform to drinking, socializing, or worse – doing nothing?

 

It wasn’t difficult to spot the house where the party was being held.  It was surrounded by drunken college students and radiated with the smell of alcohol and the sound of rap/hip-hop.  Students in their late teens ignored the temperature and wore what they considered to be in-style.  I used to understand them, but my eye of judgment has transformed.  Now I just give them these confused stares and blatantly say, “Aren’t you cold?” 

I could clearly distinguish the jocks from the wannabes and the stuck-up girls from the slutty ones with a quick glance.  I held a light keg beer in a red plastic cup and tried to stay away from the continuous flow of human traffic.  We stood in a corner in the kitchen and chatted about random things.  I wasn’t particularly drawn into the conversations, but this environment kept me observant.  I had never seen so many people inside a house.  There were a lot of various noises, but I’m not really sure who was making it because everyone I saw seemed to be following the trend of split second glances.  The drunken messes became our entertainment, but I felt sullen in their place for their ignorance.  I wondered if they were happy, or if they would wake up the next morning regretting their decisions from the night before. 

I wondered if it was my stone-cold, sober school that made me see this particular ritual’s stupidity.  It is not the partying or drinking I criticize, but the partying and drinking in large frat parties.  Yes, there is free alcohol and a lot of pretty girls walking around.  I could have turned on my “social” switch, but for some reason I didn’t feel like my conversations with these particular strangers would lead to some breakthrough.  In that judgmental moment, I couldn’t see myself reaching out of that bubble.  I stayed a spectator and I was happy doing so.

That night, I used my normal small grouped get-togethers as a control for the frat party experiment.  After finding its tremendous difference, I tried a corollary experiment with a smaller normal party with the people and place kept constant.  The next night did not require any particular dress code or mannerisms.  We gathered in the living room with a deck of cards, a rack of beer, and some movies playing in the background.  The card games lead to more drinking, which lead to more laughter, but it felt much more open.  I sat on the carpet floor in my PJs and socks, surrounded by pillows and blankets.  This was not a house filled with obnoxious strangers and filthy floors, but a den kept warm from a door that did not open every three seconds from the flow of people moving towards and away from the kegs chained to a basketball net in the backyard.  The important part is that we laughed and played with a young heart and a young mind.

~See Lemons Party in Small Groups

Advertisements

The Midnight Drive

 

 

snow, glorious snow.

snow, glorious snow.

Random Observation/Comment #106: The first sight of snow transitions my state of mind from beach umbrellas and bikinis to candy canes and gingerbread houses.  My cravings for ice cream and watermelon are replaced by dreams of hot chocolate by a warm fireplace.  All the relaxing songs playing in my head on repeat become Christmas carols and corny holiday movie references – “I really can’t stay – But, baby, it’s cold outside…” or “I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes…”  It’s freezing, but it warrants more reasons for hugs.  I imagine myself coming back from a long day of skiing and eating bread bowl chili.  That feeling of taking off those ski boots just brings a warm chill throughout my body.  Happiness comes with winter.

 

It was 2AM and we had already been on the road for five hours.  There would be five more hours of driving ahead of us, but we were not racing against time.  These long drives are always filled with the most interesting topics of conversation, and no matter how much my butt cheeks fell asleep, I was happy to close my eyes and listen.  If the songs on the easy track playlists didn’t spark an interesting conversation, the sight of a half mangled deer carcass on the side of the road would do the trick.  Boys will be boys, and our group’s conversations definitely explore the full range of vocabulary involving sexual adventures.  I often step back from our discussion and wonder how we reached these ridiculous topics of transsexuals and midgets.

All of the normal conversations and abnormal conversations continued through the night, but I think our main priority was not dying.  The first sight of snow in Pennsylvania made us ecstatic.  We all shared that cyclic flood of memories and could barely stay in our seats.  We stopped at a gas station to refuel and pick up food, but we all knew it was to actually feel what our eyes helped imagine.  The cliché flat foot slide across the building snow mounds made me smile.  I would have made snowballs and thrown them around playfully if my hands weren’t already numb.  The fact that I cared enough about my health to not do something fun made me feel a little bit old. 

Memories of winter accumulate as the years pass, but it seems my excitement level deteriorates every year as well.  I have more experiences of happy Christmases and New Years, but I just don’t feel it’s as significant as I used to.  When I was five-years-old, I probably only remembered the winter season the year before, yet I almost certainly screamed and jumped knowing there would be a holiday.  Now, my happy dances have all subsided to a different excitement.  It seems all too material.  I think the idea of school vacations and Christmas presents don’t really apply to me anymore.  All I need is that special bonding experience to make me see how far we’ve all gone.  It’s a time to share and a time to truly remove ourselves from the routine.

Anyway, these holiday cheers were quickly replaced with nervous hand-holding when we lost sight of the road.  The blanket of snow and ice left us paving our own paths.  We carefully followed large trucks to avoid that grinding sound foreshadowing a fatal accident.  I kept my eyes glued to the scene in front of me as if any of my actions would save my life.  I did not hold the wheel – all I could do is pray.  That dizzying sight of snow illuminated by the car headlights was mesmerizing.  I know I probably couldn’t do anything that would prevent an accident if it were to happen, but I felt that another eye on the road could make some difference.  Perhaps I was just taking the opportunity to prepare myself for a tragic death.  Even though I knew nothing was in my control, looking out that windshield was my search for knowledge.  I stared at the world unfolding before me as a spectator.

The snow falls in such an odd path.  Staring at it long enough, it looks as if the white dots are floating upwards.  As the windshield disturbed the light drift, a new pattern emerged to my perspective.  When I stared through the sunroof, the snow rushing over the car reminded me of a real life windows’ space travel screensaver.  I wish I could have seen the flying toasters with wings.  The hint of danger in the air kept us all awake.  It would be a long night.

~See Lemons Welcome the winter

Okay… So What Now?

 

 

thanks cait!

thanks cait!

Random Observation/Comment #105: I’ve been keeping myself busy since I’ve been back from Japan.  This semester really passed by in a blink of an eye.  It feels like it was just yesterday that I first set foot on Japanese soil and heard that relaxing, yet annoying, cicada siren.  The taste of good sushi stays on the tip of my tongue and the smell of the tatami mats brings back those wonderful Japanese dreams.  I heard a Japanese couple talking today and I couldn’t seem to stop eavesdropping – not for the sake of eavesdropping, but just to hear that beautiful language.  I must admit that it doesn’t roll off the tongue like French, but it has its unique, cute-sy way of making me smile.

 

This next stage of this blog will be focused on the “career searching” portion of my intended purpose.  Obviously, writing is a passion, but I’m still on the fence about whether it should stay a hobby or become a profession.  I’m thinking about applying to write for school newspapers, talking to publishers, and working for travel book companies, like Lonely Planet.  I don’t consider myself a good writer because I haven’t found my special style.  I’m sure my parents and brother enjoy reading what I spew, but it’s not certain of its overall usefulness.  Could I somehow make money feeding bullshit?  … I could always consider working in politics.

These past three months have been filled with side projects.  The thesis and class this semester was secondary to finding what makes me happy.  It felt like third grade all over again – “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  I can’t say something outrageous like “I want to be an Astronaut” or “I want to be Bugs Bunny (he was always my favorite).”  Although traveling to space is a valid goal, I don’t think I can pierce the atmosphere with wishful thinking – believe me, I tried.  I’ve been searching for 12 years and I still have no idea.  What happened, instead of finding a valid answer, was what I imagine as a cone of depleting choices as time passes.  The older I get, the narrower this tree of choices becomes.  When I chose engineering as my degree, I effectively knocked out becoming a lawyer or doctor (although I know a few people who did this anyway).  It’s a little depressing, but a lot of us growing up, almost grown up, or still growing, are slowly realizing that a lot of our dreams are slowly being crushed by time.  This scares the shyt out of me.  I stick with the choices I make, but I like choices to choose from.  There is always a plan B, C, D, and E in my mind for that “just in case shit happens” chance.  If you remove these choices, my mind divides by zero and everything blows up.

Every chapter in my life has jumped back and forth between ideologies, aspirations, and beliefs.  I was searching for a meaning, but fell short and settled on a personality.  These social experiments not only built my general opinion of society, but also helped me piece together the bigger picture.  My goals and dreams were deeply influenced by my peers and parents.  In fact, I partly became an engineer because of my brother. 

I chose engineering because of its realistic application and overall boost of useful everyday knowledge.  It has acted as a base of reason and helped me work through so many other problems with a logical methodology.  The more I look around the world with this third eye (not the religious one), the more I see the algorithms and equations that govern our lives.  There’s no doubt in my mind that becoming an engineer was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my lifetime.

I’m not exactly the sheep in the herd, but I wouldn’t call myself a shepherd’s dog either.  I’m not wealthy or influential enough to be the shepherd, nor am I evil enough to be the wolf (maybe I need to swap shepherd and wolf to fit today’s standards).  I think I would be the shepherd’s son, doing the neighbor’s daughter (haha, even if I was, that’s beside the point).  I would be the son who learns about the system, but thinks about becoming a racecar driver or veterinarian.  My father, the shepherd, would never understand and try to keep me on track, but you can’t stop a boy from dreaming.  It’s a simple life as a shepherd, although a little time consuming.  I would probably do well, but is that the point?  There needs to be more than just a job well done.

I want to discover my writing abilities, and test out different writing styles.  I will always continue my normal journal rants to slit my wrists and bleed onto the page (so to speak).  It’s not always frustration or stress, but it’s convoluted enough to keep locked away.  The social experiment is already in action: seelemonseat and seelemonspoetic will be side projects.  One’s about reviewing restaurants and the other is just for fun when I’m feeling creative.  I’m planning to start a seelemonsfictional which will be filled with short stories or comic book scenes.  We’ll see what happens.

~See Lemons Expand

Tribute

Random Observation/Comment #104: I never imagined it would have taken so much time to catch up with my Japan entries.  I thought I would have finished these summaries and reflections a maximum of two weeks after returning.  Now that I had gotten so used to writing about every passing day, how will I catch up with all of the things that happened after Japan?  Well, I won’t, because most of it was spend in the lab writing my thesis anyway.  I’m not worried though, there’s always something to write about.  What chaos doesn’t exist will be created to make things more interesting.

 

I could tell it was awkward giving everyone hugs because I made all of them blush – guys and girls alike.  I had formed bonds with these students and they have all influenced my opinion of Japan.  So many cultural lines were crossed through a gesture that I find normally fitting for farewell. 

It doesn’t even matter if I’ll see you later tonight, a hug feels good.  I can’t begin to describe how many things a hug means to me.  Let’s just say that depending on the type of hug, it can be more intimate than a kiss.  A hug says, “Welcome into my personal space – we can share.”  The body contact is maximized to spread warmth, and we physically transmit feelings of gratitude, sadness, or best wishes.  It could say “I’ll miss you” or “I love you” or “I’ll never forget you” within that short-lived tight squeeze.  I think my days are brighter when it starts with a hug.  This will be tested with another social experiment (I can already hear the hippie names you come up for me now).

This was a sad day for Japan, but I doubt they skipped a beat.  I had missed my home and it was my presence needed to be spread more evenly.  I needed to leave even if I didn’t want to.  There were lonely nights when I wondered how everyone was passing each day.  I predicted what they would say when I returned.  I imagined what they were wondering what I would be doing to pass the day.  My odd sense of thinking in recursion sometimes hurt my head because I’d fill in the whole three panel comic with pictures of pictures (that made more sense in my head). 

This entire trip was a real life example of that heart aching question: “Will I be missed?” 

When I had a girlfriend, my eyes welted whenever I thought of her cold hand without mine holding it.  I felt powerless with her, yet I could conquer the world at the same time.  There was nothing about her that I could control, but I felt safe letting my heart go.  It was a connection that I was certain, but could never satisfyingly prove.  If I were still with her, I think she would miss me.  I think I would miss her.

I’ve given parenting much thought just because I try to plan everything in my life.  I’m sure I could fill a book with my observations and conclusions, but an analogy comes to mind that reminds me of my current position as a son.  Let’s say I’m obsessed with cars and call them my girlfriends, mistresses, and wives.  Hypothetically, I set a project to build my own car and make it into my hunny-wagon.  Let’s say it takes me 4 years to complete and I document it every step of the way with photo albums and over-sized hats.  One day while I’m taking the hunny-wagon out for a spin, I get into an accident and it’s completely totaled.  I step out of the wreckage without a scratch, but I watch my 4 years of hard work towed away by a dump truck.  Imagine the heartbreak seeing the time and pure manly love that went into this gorgeous vessel that just disappeared in a flash.

21 years where something could have gone wrong with my engine, my brake lining, oil changes, suspension or whatever, but there was always these mechanics worrying about it and trying to fix it.  I had started off priceless, yet I will always accumulate in value.  My time with them should bring us closer, not drift us away.  I am a “good kid” because I always think about this analogy.  First and foremost, I want to succeed in whatever definition I place for “success”.  And second, I want to make my parents proud and give them the reward for putting up with me for so long.  How much frustration have I caused them?  How much do I owe them?  They will say I owe them nothing, but I think I will pay it back by teaching my children and showing them I figured out one of the most important puzzles.  (I’ll probably buy my dad a car and my mom some diamonds too.)

I am a life-long project.  My parents and brother have raised me and watched me discover myself into some sense of maturity or understanding of the vast world before me.  They’ve carefully planned everything one step ahead of me.  Whenever I thought about lying to them, they knew and they already had the next level of the tree filled.  It was so calculated, but I’m sure they would just say they made it up as they went along.  In my eyes, these were not responses or reactions to my decisions, but rather choices of actions based on a solvable game.  How could they know?  Why were they always right?  Every step of the way, they have been there with advice that would never corrupt me or see to my doom.  Although I may not see all of the angles they do, in the end, it never steered me in the wrong direction.  “You’ll understand when you get older” actually means something now – damn.  I am old enough to make my own decisions, but there will be no point in my life where I don’t consider their precautions – after all, they love me, and I love them.

~See Lemons Love Family and Friends

 

Wordlife.

Wordlife.

Japan Closing Advice

 

 

Wrapped hiking stick from Fuji-san ready for the plane ride home

Wrapped hiking stick from Fuji-san ready for the plane ride home

Random Observation/Comment #103: It’s hard to say goodbye, but I guess I never left – I guess I never have to.  I’ve been reliving the memories for the past 2 ½ months and it’s been the most enjoyable moments in my life.  Every morning in front of my laptop on the LIRR, I am in my writing zone with the classical music playing in the background.  I close my eyes and try to piece together all the memories of my senses and emotions.  I wish it would play like a movie, but there are all of these glitches in the audio, video, touch-io, smell-io, and taste-io departments (I know the technical terms, but this is funnier).  There are scenes where it’s perfect, but I’m lucky if I get most of them with two out of five.  I often remember the moments that I really tried hard to capture, but oddly, this clip from my past does not have associated feelings.  It’s like my memory can’t concentrate on my senses and my emotions at the same time.  For example, I clearly remember the few minutes of the sunrise as I looked over my camera recording, but the moment when the sun looked like a yolk dropping into this liquid sky, the senses are replaced with emotions and thoughts.  It’s weird because I can then repaint the picture based on the way I remember feeling.  It’s no longer the same picture, but it brings the emotions just the same. When I reread these entries in my old age, I hope I still have this valuable skill.  I hope I can still roam the 4th dimension in my dreams – not in hopes to alter anything to cause a rift in the space-time continuum, but to be a spectator of an unforgettable part of my life.

 

 I basically wrote an entry for every day I was in Japan.  What a good idea.  So what have I learned from this social project and what do I suggest for people who want to keep a travel blog? 

  • Write Selectively. Don’t spend as much time as I did/do writing about everyday as if it were the highlight of your entire trip because it will take up all of your time and you will be as addicted as I am.  I kept an excel file with a two-column table indicating the date and activity.  I filled this in everyday before I slept just to summarize the main things that happened.  Each activity box only had bulleted events like “university trip – paragliding” or “capsule hotel” to spark my memory. 
  • Maintain personal style when writing.  When you write the entries, don’t forget to include your reflections of your everyday senses because if you write for yourself, you don’t just want a quick crappy summary that you could find on the places’ website.  Capture the moment in your own way – that’s what makes the writing enjoyable; the rush of memories and corresponding emotions with every sentence keeps me tapping my arm for the vein (maybe I went too far).
  • Carry around a Notepad or type it into your iPhone.  My back pocket always had a pen and notepad ready to write down the next observation.  I had filled 5 little 50 page notebooks before leaving Japan.  If you’re not a writer, have one handy anyway to keep track of expenses, write down important Japanese phrases, and collect numbers from girls you meet at clubs (especially Gai-jin clubs – no problem whatsoever).
  • Take pictures, but don’t forget to look around.  My camera had grown its own hunger to capture everything and anything my eyes saw, but don’t live your life through that small LCD screen.  Sometimes you just have to fight the urge, and keep it safe in your mind.  The pictures are supposed to aid your memories, not replace them.  Don’t forget to bring extra memory cards, battery chargers, and an external storage device to transfer all 20 GB of pictures (maybe that last one is just for me).
  • Find your own writing routine.  My personal routine of writing is during my commute to and from school.  When I was in Japan, I wrote during some of the late nights when I was left alone in my little room without Internet or television.  An active trip will not have this free time to stay at home and write.  Resort to reflecting on these memories when you’re finished with the trip and back to your normal (and hopefully not too boring) routine.
  • Fool around with different writing styles.  I found it boring writing the same way every day as a chore so I approached every blog entry with a different perspective.  There are days where I feel like writing serious reviews and other times where I let myself drift off into a random trail.  You can write stories about yourself in the third person if you’d like, but I think exploring different writing styles will keep the memories interesting.

My next adventure is Europe.  I will be there for at least 4 months studying at Hamburg University starting in March.  The blogging and copious amount of pictures will continue when I’m there.  I’m considering focusing on actually offering factual information about the places I visit, but I think too many other sites do this.  I’d like to find a happy mixture of expressing my experiences, adding my little quirks and side stories, and giving useful advice for travelers.

 

~See Lemons Wait for the Next Adventure

Making ice cream while hung over

 

 

Noda-san mixing frozen yogurt

Noda-san mixing frozen yogurt

Random Observation/Comment #102: When the “schedule” is set, you’re not allowed to make any impromptu changes.  Even if you drink until 4AM the night before, you still must wake up at 8AM to attend a frozen-yogurt-making activity.  Almost everyone I know would have slept in (which would be convincing enough to follow guilt-free), but every single drunken mess I saw the night before was outside on the benches (almost) ready to start the morning.  That’s dedication. 

 

It was a beautiful morning, but I wasn’t in the beautiful-morning-mood.  I could have used more than 4 hours of sleep, but I didn’t want to offend anyone or show Japanese people how lazy Americans really are.  I guess by waking up on time with a smile, I was poorly representing my background as a 21-year-old New Yorker on vacation.  What I should have done was wake up at 2PM and raided the fridge for Tostitos and salsa while wearing argil business socks and CK boxers (that might just be me at Jake’s house on a Saturday morning).  You could imagine my enthusiasm for making ice cream.  They were lucky that I was conscious, let alone functional and social.

I thought ice-cream-making was for elementary school kids, but apparently graduate students getting their PhDs in artificial intelligence subjects can also have a good time mixing ingredients and tossing around a huge canister.  The process is pretty simple, but the competition between college groups added some motivation.  I wasn’t sure of the exact amounts, but we mixed sugar, sour cream, and egg whites together into a bowl.  Then, we beat it to give the whole thing some body.  You really want a thick, yet fluffy consistency.  After you have this goop, you put it into a metal container inside of a larger plastic canister and fill it with ice and salt. 

Then the fun part: Close the plastic lid and roll it around to rapidly decrease the temperature against the metal.  The rolling action should keep the frozen yogurt at the edges of the container and the ice should freeze it after about 15 minutes of movement.  Different teams tried different methods of rolling the container.  My team basically found a hill and threw it down a couple of times (like 50).  I was doubtful of this success because if you graph the rolling speed against time, you will see some shaking for the climb up the hill, and then an accelerated roll down the hill.  Although the average speed may match that of a conventional method of kicking the thing around, the inconsistency of motion and body heat added during the physically transport of the device was inefficient.  In fact, after 15 minutes of this unnecessary work, the frozen yogurt looked more like frozen pudding – Failure.  Oh well, take two.  … Take three.

Well, we eventually got it.  I also gave up half-way and went to a vending machine to spend 100 yen on real ice cream.  I guess the one I ate wasn’t made with love and teamwork.  I tried some of their frozen yogurt and it tasted pretty good.   I was never a big fan of the sourness that came with frozen yogurt – I always thought frozen yogurt was like rejected ice cream.  The toppings are decent, but I rather have some cookie dough or mint chocolate chip.  If they come out with double chocolate chunk frozen yogurt, I’ll be, as they say, “all up on that shit.”

 

~See Lemons Make Frozen Yogurt

Ikemoto-san rolling the canister full of frozen yogurt

Ikemoto-san rolling the canister full of frozen yogurt

The story of a bottle of jager and rum – it ends with their sacrifice

 

 

)

epic bbq. look at all that food 🙂

Random Observation/Comment #101: As the alcohol content in these little Japanese people’s blood stream increases, so does the frequency of slurred Jap-English phrases.  I had no idea what they were saying, but it was fun trying to figure it out.  Even if I did understand, I waited for them to draw a picture or make funny gestures for my own entertainment.  Although this was a little mean, I actually remembered the words they taught me much better when they explained it in different ways.  How could I forget the creativity of their charade clues?  Good times.

 

After the paragliding adventures, we had a few hours to play some soccer and baseball.  These two sports seem to be the staple of Japanese culture.  Not only does everyone want to be a baseball player, but they practice tirelessly enough to succeed.  From our conversations, I couldn’t tell if it was a love for the sport or a motivation to become a superstar and travel overseas to make money as a professional.  I guess I didn’t expect a group of engineering students to make irrational decisions, like dropping all their work to pursue a career that has little chance of success (cough).  I know happiness is important, but I guess it doesn’t buy security (::Shakes fist at Angus::).

I never really played baseball, but I consider myself a well-rounded athletic person.  I think basic hand-eye coordination skills and some motor functions are all you need to play quick pick up games with students that build robots.  It may sound cliché, but I remember the little league kids teasing to come closer whenever I went up to bat.  I felt a surge of confidence when the Japanese people all moved back when they saw I was next.  I wish I could play little league now (Mitch Hedberg reference).

The BBQ feast we had was epic.  We cooked the amount of beef equivalent to a full cow.  The sizzling moo kept me stuffing my face until I truly could not move.  The food coma struck me swiftly and skillfully like a trained ninja.  Fortunately, the promises of sake and soju kept me from pitching a tent and calling it a night.  My eyelids were heavy and my breathing slowed while I struggled to maintain a Japanese conversation.  I knew it was a bad sign when I couldn’t think of anything but jumping cows and fluffy sheep.

The token Irishman (hopefully not as offensive as my “little Chinaman” nickname) did not disappoint the typical stereotypes of alcoholism and drunken rage.  His bottles of jager and rum proved useful for the night to follow.  The Japanese students didn’t really need a drinking game.  Most of them nursed two beers and showed their Asian glow.  By the third, they were laughing for no reason and started bursting out into song.  “Ponyo ponyo ponyo ponyo pon!”  echoed in my ears and haunted all those that tried to escape its addictive tune.  By the four, half of the group huddled in a corner, while the heavier drinkers started our drinking games.  I’ve never been so drunk by 10PM (maybe zombiecon trumps it with 2PM).  My memory of the night is a little patchy, but I distinctly remember wearing pink slippers outside and getting into a fight with a vending machine… He started it.

~See Lemons a Little Tipsy

 

Another beer tower

Another beer tower

Angus can blog?

 

 

me and angus

me and angus

Random Observation/Comment #100 (yay, happy dance): Writing is my release.  It is an addiction I indulge in at least an hour a day.  My entries do not take a lot of extra thought.  When I close my eyes, these words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and endless pages just appear on the screen.  These lines take me higher.  I’ve been writing consistently for 7 years now, but I’ve never considered this a career.  Conveying ideas is obviously necessary in every area of work and study, but writing to the people, for the people, seems like I’ve betrayed my original purpose.  I started writing to maintain a time capsule of events that changed my life.  Before I left to Japan, I reread all of these entries and opened a flood of memories and emotions.  I laughed, cried, smiled, and generally showed this stoic face of reflection.  It took a week to read through all of my entries of 6 years.  My childish high school angst and ambitious college rants became a part of me again.  If I had the super powers that absorbed other people’s super powers (which I could technically have, but never be able to test), the feeling of rereading those entries would be analogous to taking someone’s powers.

 

My brother started a blog most probably to be more like me (not probable at all).  He writes about what’s important to his life: cars, family, friends, career, food, art, and cars (done on purpose).  What he has to say does not really contribute to the community as a civil service of any sort, but rather offers a peer into his very respectable outlook on life.  Everything checks out when you listen to his story.  I love cars; therefore I will design roads so millions of cars can be happy.  I don’t think Angus is completely obsessed.  It would be an obsession if he calls his cars his girlfriends, mistresses, and wives, but why would anyone ever do a crazy thing like that? 

Angus calls his cars his girlfriends, mistresses, and wives.  He loves driving them until every gallon of fuel is depleted.  I know you’re asking the question every person asks when I tell them this, “how does he juggle so many of them without extreme jealousy and spontaneous combustions in the name of love?”  The trick is to keep them in separate garages.  It’s also a good idea to not mix up their names at the peak of your first gear rev.  He currently has a weekend car and a normal drive to and from work.  I think he will collect enough to change their names to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… Now if those were real women, I’d be a happy driver.

~See Lemons > Beef

Paragliding is aight

 

 

I wish that was me.

I wish that was me.

Random Observation/Comment #99: Who the hell doesn’t want to fly?  I’m a little afraid of heights, but I would still love to be able to make that party entrance.  I mean, it’s not as classy as entering a party in your own mansion with three beautiful ballet dancers around your arms after being released from a private chopper, but I do think mine flaunts a bit less money.  For some reason, I feel like someone judging my powers of flight would think to themselves, “Hey, if I could fly, I would probably do the same.”  On the other hand, the Bruce Wayne entrance would get the response, “What a complete waste of money, you arrogant son of a bitch.  I hate you because I want to be you.”  It makes me wonder why envy works in such interesting ways – maybe it’s just the pure corruption and evil of money.

 

I felt the way a racing dog must feel when anticipating the starting shot to try and catch that rabbit flying around the track.  “Ichi, ni, SAN!” and I ran with all my might off the grass covered ski slope.  The parachute inflated above me creating an ominous shadow below.  I kept my arms raised and jumped with a huge leap of faith that I wouldn’t crash to my doom.  To my surprise, I stayed afloat, but at the price of those straps digging into my biceps and squeezing my groin muscles.  This hurt like hell and made me wonder why it doesn’t bother babies as much when we pick them up by the arm pits.  I figure it’s because of the weight to surface area ratio that determines the pain.  If I were a baby’s size and weight, the two hands would probably feel more like pillows lifting me gently into a parent’s loving-arms.  As an adult being lifted, the force required to lift me upwards is much greater and focused on a smaller point.  It would be the difference between being strangled with a piece of floss or a thick belt (I don’t know why I chose this particular analogy – must be Dexter). 

So this is how it feels to fly – 200 pounds (including equipment) forced directly onto my arms and crotch.  Don’t get me wrong, the view was unforgettable, but so was the pain.  It left unattractive bruises that everyone saw during the onsen.  Side note: bruises have a tendency to go through such a glorious number of mysterious and grim colors.  The early pink turns purple, blue, black, green, and red in a weird chromatography spread.  I felt like I was opening a present every time I lifted my sleeve.  All of the university students thought I was beaten up in the middle of the night or I was lifted by an oversized man with small hands. 

Was it worth it?  Although the three, 30 second sessions of being airborne were short lived, I felt a level of freedom when falling with style.  Students yelled, “Tanoshiiiiiii” or “Enjoyable!!” while they were floating down the side of the mountain.  Paragliding doesn’t have that stomach churning acceleration that you may find in bungee jumping or free falling, but it can be done without someone strapped to your ass.  However, due to the large number of students and only 4 paragliding shoots, we spent a lot of the day just waiting for our turn.  To occupy our time, we took pictures at the bottom and laughed at people flying into bushes and landing on their asses.

The thirty seconds you spend in the air does free your mind.  I wonder if the view and feeling in Heaven is like that – a boost of adrenaline and a view seen by the privileged.  I had truly been stress-free for close to two minutes that day.  In my opinion, it was definitely worth it.

~See Lemons Paraglide

Group photo!

Group photo!

Field Trip!!

 

 

)

The Uni Crew 🙂

Random Observation/Comment #98: I miss field trips.  They made me so happy because I could be legally absent for a day.  I was one of those losers who had perfect attendance throughout elementary, middle, and high school.  My mom always said I wasn’t sick enough to stay home, and I never met bad enough friends to convince me to skip classes.  Things were easy back then – I played with blocks, waited for naptime, ate some lunch, and talked to random people who became friends.  As I grew up, the blocks had changed to books and computers, but then rest sort of stayed the same.  Now, there’s much less time in the day, and everything feels so rushed.  I’m blitzing through life when all I want to do is stop running.  Can I ever take five for a breather?  Oh yeah, field trips are cool.

 

R: “Clemens, are you free next Tuesday and Wednesday, and do you have 20,000 yen?” 

Me: “Well I have the money, but I was thinking of exploring Osaka a little mo–“

R: “No no no.  You’re coming on the field trip. Shimada-san, can you add Clemens to the list?” 

Me: “Well, wait… Where are we going, and what are we doing?” 

R: “Oh, I have no idea, but there will be a lot of alcohol involved.  Plus, you speak English and I need someone to bother.  Bother bother bother.” 

Me: “Uhhh… I don’t have a say in this?” 

R: “Not at all.”

Me: “Okay.  Sounds good to me.”

And so it began.  I had already spent countless days traveling alone, so I took the opportunity to be social.  I had no idea where I was going, but it didn’t matter – I had learned that life is not always about your location or situation, but rather sharing that moment with those you care about most.  No matter how well I can write, nothing will substitute another person’s perspective.  I can’t write their experience in their own eyes.  I can’t capture their thoughts and bring them to life.  If all the people I wanted to share this experience with were next to me, I wouldn’t have to.

We cramped into a bus and drove for hours to some random location in the middle of nowhere.  The fog that day gave it an eerie Hollywood horror film feel to it.  It felt like there was a murder mystery brewing behind the scenes.  Three rooms would be shared by 16 people, and one of them was reserved for the only two girls that joined us.  Seven guys sleeping on the floor of a normal sized single sounded terrible at first, but we had the perfect solution to make it not matter – alcohol.  I had called “no homo,” but I think Richie and I were the only ones who understood.  Before the eventual drinking night, we went paragliding and ate some of the best barbeque I’ve had in my life.  College field trips accompanied by alcohol are just simply amazing.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make me happy.

~See Lemons Happily Dragged Along

 

eerie fog that night

eerie fog that night