Tuesday, February 24, 2004
pyromania, oh my.

My obligatory, funny English language teaching story of the day from work:

"I like fire", Mrs. K said in her stereotypically happy, Japanese housewife cute-voice.

I could feel my left eyebrow raised.

Ummm... could you explain a little more, Mrs. K?

Mrs. K smiled, innocent as ever. She apparently had completely failed to notice the strange expression my face was now making at her. The neurons in my brain fizzled and popped as my mind briefly wondered how widespread pyromania was here in Japan, the "safe country". I felt the urge to glance for the nearest fire extinguisher.

I like fire... I made a big fire this last weekend!

Both eyebrows were raised now. Mrs. K kept smiling, oblivious as ever to my reactions.


After some more questions, turns out Mrs. K is a big fan of building bonfires to cook food, especially sweet potatoes. Her and her husband went to a park in Ashiya this last weekend, and built a fire by the river.

It's probably better to say, "I like to build bonfires for cooking food". I quipped in my "kind English teacher voice", as I tried to suppress a laugh.

OK! Mrs. K nodded vigorously. Ah, sweet and gentle old Japanese houswives... who woulda thunk. This week, it's pyromania... next week it's going to be kleptomania or collecting fingernail clippings.


As promised... pictures from Shiv, Mel, and Kristie's visit:

Me, Shiv, Amy, Kristie at Ninniku-Ya, a famous Japanese restaurant (chain) specializing in garlic cuisine. Yum!

Amy and Kristie playing the taiko drum video game.

Me and Shiv playing this tamborine game. I sucked hard, but that's because Shiv told me my height was 1.2 meters and it messed up the height sensor. BOOO! Damn metric system conversations... I ain't that short.

The whole crew at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, in front of the brand-spankin' new Spiderman ride. It was so cool, we rode it twice!

Cartoon character hats... Chilly Willy, Woody Woodpecker, Cookie Monster, and Elmo. I (for obvious reason) am the Cookie Monster and unable to make a normal facial expression.

Shiv and Konatsu (Little Summer), my host fam's granddaughter.

Shiv, me, Konatsu, Mai (Konatsu's mom), Mrs. Wajima, and Mr. Wajima at the tofu restaurant

Shiv getting to play dress-up... my host fam gave her a yukata (basically a summer kimono) as a gift.

Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. Shiv looks smiley here, but she was really hungry... bad BF was on the menu (he forgot to give her lunch before the 20 minute hike to the temple). A strategically placed udon noodle stand on the temple grounds saved me from cannibalism.

Even Jizo gotta rock a beanie when it's cold in Japan.

Long view of the Kiyomizu Temple complex. Fantastic place.

My favorite picture, even if it looks like I have a fat face...

All in all, it was a great time. I'm glad Shiv, Mel, and Kristie came to visit.


I've decided this is going to be an especially long entry to the blog. Oh well.

Steph recently mentioned that the future to her lately is a not-so-happy thing and I can sympathize. Why is it for our generation, for our group of "young adults", that the future is a thing of oppression?

The world is still a mess, if not worst... we have Big Brother-ish security in America, mostly focused on non-white minorities, AKA people like me, while at the same time, our hawkish administration pisses off many of our major allies. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has gotten ridiculously worst with Israel building a nutty wall, and Arab countries continually manipulating the suffering of the Palestinian people as an anti-Western tool. North Korea and Iran might have nukes, and both have itchy fingers. There's gay priests/ministers in several major "Christian" denominations, and gay marriage is next on the agenda... I suppose child pr0n and bestiality will likely be de-criminalized soon after. Scientists have cloned human embryos, and already starting test-tube baby-esque experiments, right down to gender and characteristic selection. BSE, chicken flu, and SARS still are lurking about. All signs of the coming Apocalypse, eh?

On a more personal note, I and my contemporaries have graduated into one of the worst economies in recent history and huge numbers of people are jobless. I have to live with the fact that social financial institutions will most likely collapse because of Republican AND Democratic incompetence, meaning that I will have no money for retirement or medical security.

On and on and on... things are so incredibly bleak in the world, I'd go nuts - my cynicism is held barely at bay by the anchor of my faith that says no matter what, somehow and in someway... God has purpose for everything, as uncomprehensible as His design may seem.

It's in my nature to be laidback about things, but maybe the recent visit of Shiv and the Seattle friends have all brought the future back to the forefront of my mind. At the moment, one of the great pleasures of life here in Japan is that I am afforded the luxury of just concentrating on the job at hand and not paying much attention to the future. It's easy to live day-to-day, your life scheduled out and your adventures being limited to merely what you eat for lunch or what color tie you wear to work.

Having Shiv visit me recently here in Japan allowed me to add another layer of happiness to that schedule - when your best friend is around to laugh with you, lean on your shoulder, and just be with you, it makes the experience all the more richer.

But every vacation is temporary; just an escape. In some of our private moments, Siobhan and I had probably had some of serious discussions about the future... mine, hers, ours, and especially the M-word. And as much as we both care about each other, being realistic about the future means that for the time being, our lives must deal with the fact that I'm still in Japan and she's still in Seattle.

God called me here for a purpose I'm still struggling to discern, while Shiv and everybody else that still remains at home in Seattle also has their own personal spiritual questions to grapple with. I contemplate my own questions daily.

When will I return home? What will do when I return to America? Go back to school? If so, what will I study? Or should I work? If so, where and doing what? Or am I being called to seminary? If so, where and for what purpose?

For people who place their faith in God, I believe the most difficult concept to integrate in one's life is the knowledge that God has a plan and purpose for everybody who trusts in Him. It's easy to exist... to eat, sleep, and breathe is all that is necessary really for that. But I believe that to exist as God intended, is to live with a purpose.

While we can know that in general, the plan and purpose God gives us will be to both glorify Him and serve our fellow man, the specifics, the nitty-gritty, exact details, for most people (myself included) are left in a difficult and vast gray area.

I have the faith to hope for so much, that within time, that which I need to know to move forward with my life will be revealed to me by God... but even of the faith of this preacher's son can be fragile at times. Some days, it's secured by a chain of Heavenly-inspired confidence that nothing can shatter... other days, it dangles by a thread so thin that it would snap under the smallest misfortune.

The day Shiv left to return to Seattle, I turned to the daily calendar she made me and I found this verse... which of course, cannot be mere coincidence:

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it, the men of old gained approval." Book of Hebrews 11:1-2 NASB

Hope can be a slippery thing to hold on to. But my future depends on it.


Song of the moment: What Am I to You? Norah Jones


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in?scrip?tion (n-skrip-shun)n.
1. The act or an instance of inscribing.
2. Something, such as the wording on a coin, medal, monument, or seal, that is inscribed.
3. A short, signed message in a book or on a photograph given as a gift.
4. The usually informal dedication of an artistic work.
5. Jeremiah 31:33

the facts.
name. Gar AKA "that Chinese guy" "Sleepy.McSleeping"
ethnicity/nationality. Chinese/American, 4th gen.
location. Sea-Town, WA, USA Kawanishi, JAPAN
occupation. less-cynical poor grad student
age. younger than you think, older than you know



UnseenGC @ AIM
(myname) @ gmail.com



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