Monday, January 31, 2011

Part of the Battle - Guest Post by John Regan

Today we take a blessed break from the pointless ramblings of the guy who usually posts here to enjoy a few words from John Regan, an aspiring writer and incurable Red Sox fan.
I became acquainted with John only recently, and it didn’t take long to take a liking to his work. Anyone who writes for a living – John works as an editor for a telecommunications company in Washington State – and then goes home to craft a short story or work on a book or post to a nostalgia-rich blog has got to have passion for the art. In John’s case, this passion translates into subject matter that, well, matters. Take a look at an excerpt from the book he is working on, about former collegiate wrestler and current motivational speaker Rich Jensen, or pick an entry from one of his two blogs and dive in. You’ll see what I mean.

For his guest post here John offers a few words on his love of language and writing while touching on their concomitant labors. I deeply appreciate John’s stopping by, and look forward to seeing his name on book covers and bookshelves as he works to conquer the beasts that, in writing as in any endeavor, roam the forests between aspiration and success. Take it away Mr. Regan…

Saturday, January 29, 2011

'Hey I got a schedule to keep here!...' - A Year in Fukushima #6

Last month I stumbled across a job opportunity in Florida that seemed right up my alley. This was pretty exciting for me as jobs and my alley don’t normally hang out in the same neighborhood. The position, involving fingerprint analysis and expensive-looking machines, would jibe perfectly with my advanced (mostly in age) education. What tipped my stubborn work/life scales though was the prospect of living year-round within a short bike ride of the sand and surf. This was a place I could almost imagine being gainfully employed. So immediately (meaning within a week) I got to work on the application process.

As with any application to a law enforcement agency, the paperwork involved a lot of swearing: I swear I don’t have any objectionable tattoos (or a forked tongue, a condition actually spelled out in the ‘no bodily mutilation’ section); I swear I don’t smoke (drinking, by its non-mention, is fine); I swear I have no history of repeated marijuana use beyond ‘experimental’ (Bill Clinton clause); I swear I have no recent DUI convictions. No problem, I’ll swear to all this and lots more, just hook me up to that polygraph. Oh and by the way I’ve got that ‘high school diploma or GED’ thing covered.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Time Management 2011 ('Hey where are my keys?')

Barely three weeks into 2011 and I can already hear the shatter and crash of people everywhere tossing their new year’s resolutions out the nearest window. Normally I wouldn’t notice it over the sound of the toilet as I flush my own promises away, right along with the back end of the year’s first Tuesday afternoon beer. But this January there’s a new kind of noise around the Kato household. Yes, that sound you are hearing is the smooth, even drone of methodical, almost superhuman planning.

I’ve thrown a few resolutions on the table this year. Not casually tossed under the kotatsu, or mindlessly slipped onto my desk, under a pile of what may be last year’s city tax forms and trail of related notices and summonses. No sir, I’ve been cultivating my powers of concentration in preparation for what is shaping up to be a landmark year for me. This year, no more minutes and hours will be wasted, lost forever in the vortex of inefficiency. This year, things are going to get done, frequently and fast, with none of my valuable ‘Run & Gun Time’ wasted on YouTube or dental floss or barely-bleeding kids.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flights of Fancy

My wife’s wallet is fat with stamp cards. Card for the gas station, card for the camera store, card for a curry shop I don’t think she’s ever even been to. She doesn’t even like curry. I myself don’t have the organizational skills to keep track of a stack of store cards, even if I did possess the inclination to hold onto them or the capacity to remember to use them. My wife hands me a supermarket card as I am heading out the door of the apartment, and by the time I’m walking through the automatic doors two minutes later (assuming I hit or ignored all the traffic lights on the way) I’ve completely forgotten about it.

Really, it’s hard to exist in Japan without amassing at least a modest collection of these insidious little gimmicks. I have a mess of them in a drawer from the haircut place up the street; I never bother or remember to bring the last one I got but I feel culturally insensitive if I don’t let them make me a new one. And every time I promise to bring my others to combine them and see what sort of discount I can get on my next cut. I may have enough to take over the place. Then once I do I am going to get rid of the stamp card system.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ringing in the New Year in Japan - A Year in Fukushima #5

That I rang in the new year five days and fifteen minutes ago means a few things. One, the synapses should be firing like jiffy-pop up there, making my aluminum foil head explode with ideas for resolutions so outlandishly ambitious I won’t feel bad about breaking them; two, my mother-in-law’s mochi cakes – all fourteen varieties, including the one with the dried bits of squid entrails mixed in – should have mercifully, magically disappeared by now, from both the fridge and the walls of most of my major arteries; and three, I should have written my first post of the year four days and fifteen minutes ago and gone to bed.

I have excuses none of this is happening. Their names are Yamato and Seiji.

My older boy won’t stop making me play trains with him, or take him to the park. I wish he’d get creative and say something like ‘Daddy, just get out of my face if you can’t turn me into a dinosaur.’ Then I can get down to some serious resolution-making – after I fiddle with the settings on my blog page a little more. The younger kid thinks he’s off the mochi hook because he only has four teeth, and cries like a baby until I give in and fix him some pulverized peas instead. This of course means it’s another plate of cooled-off, brick-of-chalk mochi for papa. Then all day they tag-team mom with screaming poopie pants and glue-eating competitions, and in an apartment this size I can’t fake not noticing that the god of hellfire is shooting out the wife’s mouth again, and suddenly I’m back on daddy duty and another day of writing is shot. So here goes another late-night typing session – evidently I didn’t place the prolific writing resolution bar high enough to justify crying a quiet ‘impossible’ to myself and just crawling into my futon.
But really, I’m glad I’m feeling motivated, because I can’t wait any longer to say that my New Year’s Eve was, in a word with countless connotations, amazing.