Everything Day Logs
Everything Day Logs (overview)
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I'm in my recurring role as Insomnia Boy; combine that with my normal winter indulgence of my Nordic aspect (brood brood brood, Sibelius on the stereo, etc, and all this while being in snowbird territory - it's not like I'm huddled by the damn fireplace), and you have the poster boy for No Fun. I'm ready for my closeup, Mister Bergman.

But I get more stuff done, presumably; this is arguable, since I'm pretty much in a zombie-like state. I have learned to not operate heavy machinery, do any ambitious cooking, or make any important decisions until I return to normal sleeping mode. Everything else is OK, except I couldn't use the extra time to go through my e-mail, since my ISP's mail server seems to be down for some unscheduled "maintenance". Feh.

The day started out with finals over at Oakland University. And today's final was... Chemistry. I hate chemistry.

I now sit behind a familiar-looking yellow book with a black sign on it... yep, it's a For Dummies book. This one is on Windows Game Programming. Hell, if Microsoft wants to play games with the compuing industry, so be it, that's all their OS is good for anyhoo. Too bad this book teaches DirectX... I'll need another book if I want to learn OpenGL or Glide.

At present, I can screw around with the Windows 256 color palette. 256 colors seems like enough for a 2D RPG game, right? Right.

Today was an incredibly busy day for me.

It was bitterly cold and very windy, convincing me to drive myself to work instead of taking my usual eight-block walk.

One of my weirder co-workers gave me a Tamogotchi--I have no idea what I'll do with it. I hate to just leave it in the box, but if I play with it, the damned electronic animal would eventually die of neglect, and then I'd feel all guilty.

My brother got fired from his job. He's glad to be gone--he was getting ready to hand in his resignation anyway, but the boss found out he was quitting and beat him to the punch. And of course, the boss won't let him get on his computer to get his old e-mail and graphics files. Employers suck. Universally.

I got e-mail from a girl I knew in high school. She was the class beauty and smart as a whip, so it made me quite giddy.

And the sad news of the day: Charles Schulz is retiring. His last regular "Peanuts" strip will run in early January. I've loved "Peanuts" since I was a little kid, and I've been channeling Charlie Brown since birth. I'll miss that comic strip so damn much...


The pre-Christmas season in Japan is a strange one, no matter how you look at it. Everything is parties, parties, parties. At the last minute, as we went to the subway, my host mother told me I had to write a speech for that night's party, a formal event for everyone in the Rotary club. So I sat on the Midosuji train and scratched away at a sheet of notebook paper, trying to make something coherent. No matter what I tried to say, it would always come out like "My name is Sekicho, exchange student from America! Merry New Year!" I finally decided to stop writing, because it was time to change trains at Umeda.

With one minor incident. As we went through the turnstile, I reached into my pocket for my wallet, which contained my commuter pass. It was gone. I checked the other pocket, then my butt pockets, and there was no wallet. Fuck, I thought, that's got five thousand yen and my bank card and my subway pass in it! So while I sweated bullets on the Osaka Loop Line, my speech went unwritten.

So we arrived. The party was atop the Imperial Hotel in Sakuranomiya, twenty-some stories above the ground. All around the ballroom, you could see a Blade Runner-like cityscape stretching to the horizon, rivers of neon piercing an ocean of concrete. There was a big Christmas tree there, and the requisite necessities of a Japanese party: Kirin Ichiban beer and Suntory whiskey, platters of nigiri sushi and tekka maki, and scores of old-looking men and young-looking women. When the time came for my speech, I stood up, slightly inebriated, and delivered a token "Merry New Year!" monologue, eventually prompting one of the Rotarians to ask me to sit down.

Over the next few days, I lived in debt to my host family: by the time NationsBank finally got a new card across the Pacific Ocean, I owed them something like a hundred dollars. The holiday season is not a good time to get cut off from an overseas bank account. To save money, I spent my time practicing the piano at home. There was a talent show-themed party coming up, and I told them I would play and sing a song. It was something I was just putting together, a silly novelty song about being a clueless gaijin in Japan, and I figured my friends would love it.

A couple of days before the party, we got a fax from the president of the RYE alumni group in Osaka. She said that they couldn't get a piano at the hotel, so could I please plan to do something else? "Gomen ne if you've been practicing." I thought, Gomen this, knowing there wasn't much I could do. As I rode the train out to the mountain 'burbs, I was still thinking about what to do for the stupid show.

When I got there, one of the alumni people suddenly said, "Hey, we got an organ! You can use that instead!" I agreed, even though one of my more astute friends said "Do you know how to play it? I couldn't play without a damper pedal." So after a number of really good acts—most notably two guys playing drum 'n' bass on a cello and taiko—I was thrust to the stage with nothing but a strange instrument and my wits, neither of which would save me.

The song still wasn't refined, so I didn't know what to play. After a couple of seconds of confusion, an ultra-cute Brazilian girl said "Play something Christmas-y!" So I played a few bars of "Joy to the World," which impressed nobody, and then I got off stage as quickly as possible.

After the party, we had ramen in an Umeda shopping arcade, amid Utada Hikaru music and the smell of cigarette smoke. Somehow, even with all these friends, I felt very lonely... and those feelings were about to bubble over.

< what came before - what came later >

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