Book Destroyer

Been reading a lot recently, as the winter has set into my room and words on the page are the only thing keeping me from sliding into complete hibernation. Well, that, and my electric footwarmer, which happens to be the greatest piece of desk paraphernalia every made, a massive inducement to just stay put at the computer where my feet are warm enough for blood movement. 

Since returning to Kyoto from Canada this October I’ve chewed through seven books, the most recent of which was Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. The story follows Jim Dixon, an assistant lecturer caught up in the petty intrigues of academic life and a lousy relationship with a neurotic that he can’t shake. 

The book is a study in frustration, and its humor comes through best in Amis’ description of Jim’s internal monologue, the snide comments he can only make to himself, the way he turns away from someone to make elaborately described faces of impotent rage.

Between Sword and Spear (sigh)

My latest Japan Times piece is now up. I was pretty happy with what came from my hike between Tsurugi-dake (Sword Peak) and Yari-ga-take (Spear Peak) until I noticed that I hadn’t explained that Yari means Spear. My editor couldn’t “stop the presses” so to speak, so it ran. Other than that omission, the text is pretty good I think.

Compound Fractures

Stress builds and builds until something gives, fissures appear: nightmare guests, rainblack winter, trailing after the elusive tendrils of future possibility, a bicycle wipeout, clusterfuck schedules

    angrily waving at a cyclist in the dark on the wrong side of the road (my side) until looming from the black of night, a shocked female face wrinkled with age appears, wondering what has come to her country as a foreign hooligan in a mask and helmet gestures wildly at her to get the hell out of the way.

Encounters with Kyoto University Social Rejects

A flash of understanding between sexes as I sat typing out an email to say thank you for a successful date: Ms. 50something approaches me and gives a full introduction, straight out of the ether, with only a “are you a student” as a preliminary question. She sits at my table and I try to return to my email. She asks a girl nearby to take a photo of both of us with her digicam. Entering surreal here folks, being photographed with someone whose name you heard for the first time less than 5 minutes before and don’t remember anymore. I grimaced.Back to my email… but she sights it and asks to do an info transfer, the modern equivalent of “can I have your phone number”. Unable to be outright rude and say “who the hell are you, exactly” I consent. Finally my student arrives and she repeats the introduction for him, handing him her name card (he’s really confused by all this) and then steps back to photograph us talking together about his schedule problem. I fled to his office. Where do people learn to be so uncomfortable? I know I’ve laid down some clumsy lines but this was awkward to the point of outright rudeness. Why should I give you my information when you haven’t even asked my name yet, for chrissakes?