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2005-08-31 4:49 p.m.

back on the horse

Theyíre having a staff meeting today at the elementary school. They kicked me out of the staff room. Iím writing this from the principalís office. [sigh] I guess this way I donít feel guilty for not even pretending to pay attention to the proceedings, like at the middle school.

Iím still tinkering with Forex. Since I formulated the main points of my master plan, it hasnít been taking up nearly so much of my time, though. The details arenít strictly determined yet, but if things proceed as I have forseen (mwa ha), Iíll start doing it with real money in about two weeks.

Have I told you that Bush hates science? Oh yeah, I have.

Hereís an interesting article on eliminating extreme poverty. I was interested to learn that poverty has actually been declining the last twenty years. Africa is still screwed, butÖ Huh. Reason for optimism.

ďIf rich nations fail to make these investments [to eradicate extreme poverty in the world], they will be called on to provide emergency assistance more or less indefinitely. They will face famine, epidemics, regional conflicts and the spread of terrorist havens. And they will condemn not only the impoverished countries but themselves as well to chronic political instability, humanitarian emergencies and security risks.Ē

So letís get this taken care of, already! I wonder what the best places for individuals to donate areÖ

Another article on the big picture: the difficulties we as a species face in the next few decades and what needs to be done to get through them. I was interested to find that world population is expected to plateau around 2050. The article reminded me of how Social Security/pension debates tend to annoy me. Trying to get people to have more children so we can ensure there will always be ten working stiffs supporting each retiree and stuff. Uhh, maybe we should be looking to switch to a system that DOESNíT require eternal exponential growth in order to remain viable? Huh? How Ďbout that? ĎCause the growth WILL stop, one way or the other. We can do it the easy way or the hard way. Or maybe itís the hard way and the harder way, but still.

I was thinking lately how most people are primarily concerned with their own immediate circumstances above all else. And I realized that thatís not necessarily a bad thing. Thatís the way it should be. Of course nature would want to design us that way. You have to worry about where todayís food is going to come from before you worry about where next yearís food is going to come from. You have to have your own shit together before you can worry about someone elseís. But we still have to step away from the trees and look at the forest on a regular basis if we want to identify incoming forest fires and make the arrangements to survive them.

It sure is a fascinating time to be alive. Not exactly a reassuring time to be alive, but when has it ever been? Iím pretty excited to see how this melodrama unfolds. Will humanity get it figured out and ensure its future? Or will modern society, if not the entire species, implode in upon itself? Stay tuned.

So, Yakushima was lovely. Just wonderful. Itís probably my favorite place that Iíve been to in Japan, and one of the most beautiful places Iíve ever seen. Zionís National Park is the only other significant contender, I think. (WTF says the most beautiful place in the world is the human heart. She says itís also the most ugly place.) Iíve never seen a place with so much freshwater flowing everywhereÖ

I was only able to spend about 27 hours on Yakushima, though. I hope I can get back there sometime. The second day I was there I had to leave by 1 pm, so I was up on the mountain by 6 am (well, actually it was 7 am, but only because there were complications in transportation). I saw virtually no one until around 10 am, though by the time I came back down at 11 the place was swarming. I think the possibility of being able to experience such places in relative solitude actually outweighs the crapitude of waking up at 5 am. Iíll have to remember that.

The boat to Okinawa was fun. I saw lots of flying fish. The sky was beautiful, and the ocean was such a weird and beautiful shade of blue. On the way back the moon was blood red.

In Okinawa I visited the old palace of the king of the Ryukyu Kingdom (I didnít realize it was independent from Japan until the late 1800s), an old underground navy base from World War II (I love stuff like that), and an old Okinawan karate master (that wasÖ informative).

I also went scuba diving. On the way down to Okinawa I was always staring at the sea, wondering. What the hell is DOWN there? From the boat it just looks a bottomless void, but of course itís teeming with life, even more so than the surface. I wanted to break through and see whatís there. So when I got to Okinawa and was trying to think of things to do, scuba was the obvious choice. And it was truly lovely. We went out to some reefs around some little islands (the Kerama Islands) about 40 km (16 miles) east of Naha Port. I very much enjoyed it and was very glad I went, though I was reminded of why I havenít dived much since getting my license: itís really expensive, and itís murder on my eardrums.

To offset my scuba diving expenses, I hitchhiked from Kagoshima to Fukuoka on the way back. My drivers, one in particular, were jaw-droppingly generous to me.

And then on Saturday evening I met up with WTF in Fukuoka. It was kind of weird to be with her there, to be with her in a place thatís familiar to me. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe (which she loves). The last time I went there was with Kami (who I havenít heard a word from since April-ish). The Hard Rock Cafe is right outside the Fukuoka Dome, and as it turned out her favorite band was doing a stadium concert right there as we ate. Bíz (pronounced like honey ďbeesĒ). Theyíre pretty freaking huge in Japan, I guess. (My students seem to prefer Orange Range, though). And the girl loves her Bíz. I donít know if Iíve ever known anyone as devoted to a single band as she is to Bíz. I wish I could have taken her to see them. (She did see them in concert in May, though.) Around the time the concert got out the place started filling up with Bíz fans and they started playing nothing but Bíz videos. WTF enjoyed it immensely. There was one song that came on that has hand motions associated with it, and it seemed like every last person in the place besides me was doing them, all together. Those people really like Bíz, man.

We tried the kissing thing again, and it went much better this time. We also held hands and stuff. And we're constantly writing each other sappy emails and letters. I guess we are an item now.

I really, really like her. She charms the hell out of me. And this is definitely a case where my interest in the relationship is nearly all straight out of my own heart and not a reflection of someone elseís interest in me (though her interest me seems considerable). I feel astounding amounts of affection for her. I just want to hug her and cuddle her and run my fingers through her hair and make her feel wanted, respected, loved, and secure.

She's so... considerate. She ALWAYS stands up and offers her seat to old people on trains and buses, and she's always really quick to alert people when they drop something... She's so conscientious and upstanding. And I'm starting to act more like that, too. It's almost as if she's making me a... better person.

She told me she feels like she can be herself with me. I was happy she said that. That is exactly the feeling I want to give to my friends and lovers. When we were on the beach, she drew a little design on the sand that looked like a cloud, but extra fuzzy on the bottom (the extra fuzziness is important, apparently). She said thatís how it feels to be with me. Besides all the things that really worry me, I feel really optimistic about this.

Honestly, though, sometimes the message I get from her is quite similar to the first track on The Magnetic Fieldsí 69 Love Songs:

donít fall in love with me yet
we only recently met
true, iím in love with you, but
you might decide iím a nut
give me a week or two to
go absolutely cuckoo
then when you see your error
then you can flee in terror
like everybody else does
i only tell you this Ďcause
iím easy to get rid of
but not if you fall in love
not now that iím on the make
and if you make a mistake
my heart will certainly break
iíll have to jump in a lake
and all my friends will blame you
thereís no telling what theyíll do
itís only fair to tell you
iím absolutely cuckoo

My heart urges me forward, though. My heart says it has only felt like this a few times in my life (though my brain says that doesnít necessarily mean anything). My heart says it will be worth it.

I think Iíve gotten a lot more impulsive, maybe even a little reckless, the last year or two. Iím a lot more willing to make decisions without investigating and thinking about things as much. Or, alternatively, I'm less likely to get bogged down with indecision. Iím also happy to accept whatever consequences that may bring and Iím always curious to see what those consequences will be. Maybe Iím experimenting. I think it may be the influence of all the Zen stuff Iíve been reading. Que sera sera, dude!

ďIn the words of the ancients, one should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths. Lord Takanobu said, ĎIf discrimination is long, it will spoil.í Lord Naoshige said, ĎWhen matters are done leisurely, seven out of ten will turn out badly. A warrior is a person who does things quickly.í
When your mind is going hither and thither, discrimination will never be brought to a conclusion. With an intense, fresh and undelaying spirit, one will make his judgements within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break right through to the other side.Ē

I wrote that chick a 25 page handwritten letter, people. In Japanese. I didnít even know I was capable of such a thing. It doesnít seem that long ago that I was proud of myself for composing a single sentence in Japanese. My relationship with her has definitely pushed my Japanese to the next level. Itís still hard, though. I just canít express myself precisely in Japanese. If my English is a scalpel, my Japanese is a bone saw.

Among other things, in the letter I related some salient autobiographical points, expressed my strong interest in a relationship with her, and expressed what doubts I have about a relationship and what might be done to minimize them. Iím meeting her in Fukuoka again this weekend. I believe we will discuss the contents of the letter. That will be interesting.

baby iím scared of a lot of things
but i ainít scared of loviní you
baby i know youíre scared of a lot of things
but donít be scared of love

well, iíve been dragged all over the place
iíve taken hits time just donít erase
and baby i can see youíve been fucked with, too
but that donít mean your loviní days are through

Ďcause people will say all kinds of things
but that donít mean a damn to me
ícause all i see is whatís in front of me
and thatís you

well i may be just a fool
but i know youíre just as cool
and cool kids, they belong together

Wish me luck. I'm going in.

i still donít like to leave before the end of the movie,