Friday, June 30, 2006

We All Came Down to Montreux... (Montreux, Switzerland)

Big Dog and I were here last year, too, to shoot a show for Japanese television. And now we are back.

Left Gare de Lyon on Wednesday, 28th, on a TGV for Lausanne, changing to a local train for Montreux. Swiss customs come onto the train after we cross the border and check passports. The man behind us, who speaks French but looks,,,I don't know, sort of mix-Asian, gets the full inspection. As soon as you put your passport away, though, here comes a couple of police to look at your passport again! They are armed, though probably not dangerous. This is how they keep the riff-raff out of Switzerland.

Montreux is a clean, clean city, sitting prettily on the edge of Lake Leman. I can't imagine what it would be like to grow up here. It seems intolerably boring -- a great place for Very Old People who want Peace and Quiet. Or reclusive rock stars, like the late Freddie Mercury. There's a statue of him in the lakeside plaza. In fact, one of the funniest things about Montreux is their desire to put themselves on the international map.

"We were made famous in that Deep Purple song," they proudly tell the visitors, referring to the Casino fire during the Frank Zappa gig (set off by a too-ardent fan) that became the subject of "Smoke On The Water." Near the Freddie statue is a big metal "Smoke..." sign and a musical notes sculpture. No one shows much gratitude to Frank Zappa, funnily enough.

"Freddie Mercury used to have a studio here."
"Vladimir Nabokov used to vacation here."

And, of course, the World Famous Jazz Festival. This is the pride of the town. Everyone is involved. Because it is THE event that puts Montreux in the international spotlight, the founder, Claude Nobs is like royalty in this town.

"He's a shameless self-promoter," says Big Dog. To BD, all the articles about The Great Founder plastered over the Press Room walls, Claude's MCing at the gigs, his mug all over the just too much. I can easily ignore it.

We arrive two days before the festival and our producers arrive the following day, so our first shoot day is the eve of the festival. It is amazing how little is actually finished. In fact, there are still boxes and unfinished displays at 3pm on the day of the festival.

"If this were Japan, you'd have someone screaming. Things would be flying. There would be nervous breakdowns," I comment. But by 6pm, when the audience starts arriving, things are more or less in shape. There's a lesson hidden in all of this somewhere.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Looking for Jim Morrison (Pere Lachaise Cemetary, Paris)

OK. The last time I was in Paris, it was 1977. I was only a few years out of my Super Nerd stage and spent all my time in Paris in its many museums. The Cluny, L'Orangerie, of course, the Louvre... I couldn't remember if I'd visited Sainte Chappelle and it was so highly recommended by B that we couldn't pass it up, so after a few false starts (and one in which we got turned away -- I guess they were too close to closing) we finally went on our last day in Paris before leaving for Montreux.

It was magnificent. It made you want to drop some acid.

And on that thought...we walked from the chapel of kaleidoscopes, to Bastille, up and down the canal examining houseboats, up a busy street (Rue de Roquette, or Rocket Road, as I called it) to the most Famous Cemetery in All of Paris -- Pere Lachaise, or the Eternal Home of Jim Morrison.

It was one of my "must do" items.

I'd been spotting Jim in various spots in Paris. Near Sacre Coeur, along the Seine... Luckily, we got to the cemetery a few minutes before closing time. At the gate is a large map that points out the grave sites of its many famous dead residents. Oscar Wilde...Mouliere...dozens of others...and of course, James Douglas Morrison.

I quickly copied down the pertinent info in my notebook and made our way to sector 5.
Once there, we didn't have to wander down every single headstone because there was a bit of a commotion. Yes. James' place is the only one with contant tourists, and this afternoon was no different.

Middle aged men and women, a pack of young, purple-haired Americans, and a guard telling us "two more minutes and we close the place" around a simple headstone. Apparently a statue once stood here but was stolen. I quickly shot a couple of snaps before the guard started shooing us away.

"What happened to the 'deux' minutes?" complained Big Dog.
"I guess he's afraid fans will stay all night."
"So? If they really wanted to, they could hide in someone's crypt until they shut the gates."

None of us there were smart/foolish enough to do that, so we were herded away like sheep. It brought out the wolf in Big Dog.

"What the hell are you guys doing here? You weren't even born when the Doors were around!" (The new Jim-less Doors is not The Doors for Big Dog.) "I know why I'm here. I was there at the Roxy when they were playing Los Angeles. But you guys?"
"We like the old music."
"Ha! It's the ONLY music. You poor suckers. Your generation only has hip hop shit. That's not music! WE had all the great MUSIC!"

He was getting too excited and wanting to hang out all night in the cemetery. But it was past closing time and security began buzzing up and down the lanes on little scooters rounding up any lost sheep. I think one of the guys on the scooters was Jim, himself.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Doctor's Office (6th District, Paris)

Big Dog has some kind of disgusting growth on his leg. He claims he got it mowing the waist high lawn at The Ranch. When he first got to Paris, there were a few red dots on his left leg but believing he had stickers or something from the plants under his skin, he broke them open. I think that made it worse. Since then, they've been getting bigger and spreading.

As they grew worse, so did his desire to show them to others and he was constantly pulling up his pant leg. It was gross.

"Please. We're about to eat," I'd say as he pulled down his jeans in front of our hosts in Brittany.

He wanted everyone's advice. He had tried alcohol sterilization in Paris. Then we bought some hydrogen peroxide from a pharmacy near Gare Montparnasse on our way to Brittany. C&S said he should try salt water, so he gave his legs a soak in the Atlantic and then coated the open sores with iodine that S provided. It seemed to get better momentarily, but back in Paris, he exposed himself to B&G and we all decided it was time to see a doctor.

B called around to see if he could find an English speaking doctor who could see Big Dog immediately, but in the end, we walked down to a nice pharmacy on Rue Soufflot. The cute pharmacist took a look at Big Dog's leg, then looked up a doctor who was in the district. A Doctor Medioni, on St. Michel, was just a block or two down from the pharmacy.

When we got to the address, the brass plaque next to the door told us that the doctor saw patients from 11 to 1 and then from 4:30 to 7:30. It was around 3.

"I guess we'll have to come back a little later," I said, just as The Doctor was returning.

"Can you take a look?"

Many of the older buildings have a huge door facing the main street. It leads into a hallway, a courtyard, another alley. The doctor's building was similar, with the door leading into a hallway. He pressed the elevator button and told us to come up to the 3rd floor as he walked up the stairs. The elevator took only 3 people. But when it finally came down to the ground floor and we opened the door, I saw that it would really only take 3 slim people! Barely. I'll bet 50 percent of Americans could not fit into that coffin-sized elevator. 3 of them? No way!

After the elevator ride, the doctor's office was a bit anti-climatic, but it was nothing like the sterile doctor's office in a Japanese clinic. And the most surprising thing was that the doctor was alone! No nurse, no staff, just him and his computer! How efficient! Perhaps it was all that efficiency. The visit cost Big Dog only 40 EU. A little more than $40, a little more than Y4000 for the consultation and prescriptions for antibiotics. Wow. Now, if only that rash would heal...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Weekend in Brittany (Finistere, France)

Oh no. We are doing it again.

Some guys collect rare LPs. Some guys collect old cars. Or motorcycles. Or, like our host in Paris, B, antique 3D cameras and projectors. Big Dog collects real estate. Not like Donald Trump, though. I only wish it were for investment purposes. He's got land and houses and commercial buildings throughout California and each one has its own sentimental purchase story and deep emotional attachment. We live on none of it yet, although the LA condo has served as a nice storage unit for the last few years that we have mostly been on the road, and the ranch in Central California was supposed to be where we would eventually call home.

It took us 4 years to find that ranch and now Big Dog is talking about offing it -- and buying a farmhouse in the French countryside! I'd always wanted to rent an apartment and hang out in Paris for a while and we discussed this while in Paris, but we went out to Brittany to stay with friends over the weekend and while waiting to get picked up at Quimperle station, Big Dog picked up a real estate guide. First sign of his addiction coming back.

But who could blame him. The countryside here is gorgeous and the Finistere (literally "Land's End") area is so quaintly Celtic. Loads of low stone walls, stone monoliths, unbelievably cute stone houses with curvy thatched roofs. You get to the town of Pont-Aven and parts of it are like a Disney storybook land. A big plus for me is the incredibly abundant and delicious shellfish.

C, another cross-cultural exile, grew up in the south of England, went to Asia to follow a New Zealand girlfriend but got waylaid modeling in Tokyo and getting married to a Japanese girl. I don't think he ever saw the New Zealander after London. A divorce later, he was in Belgium with a French girlfriend, S, who later became his wife. They got to Brittany via the south of France. In between film/video production coordination gigs, they've been working on their farmhouse, lovingly turning it into the most charming extended complex. Lucky for C, he studied under a cabinet maker during his youth in England.

Just by coincidence, another old time Tokyo expat resident and fellow production animal, G, was also spending the weekend with C&S. She had just escaped from the boredom of an advertisers' convention in Cannes and was on her way to Turkey to vacation with friends there.

"Seafood for dinner?"
"Of course!!!" the guests agreed in unison.
But before they took us to Chez Jacky, a shellfish restaurant in Riec-Sur-Belon, we stopped at their local bistro at the mouth of a river (must look up the name...) for drinks with their friends, C playing reluctant interpreter for his Australian-American-Japanese guests.

"How did you pick up French?"
"I took a class for illiterate immigrants when we were in the south."
"A sort of French for Dummies?"
"Yeah. It really helped."

He sounded perfectly fluent to our ears but there was debate among the Francophones over his actual ability. S claimed that he had a lazy tongue and would not enunciate properly.

"For an English speaker, though, French is a real workout for the facial muscles," said Big Dog, twisting his face around. "English is a lazier language in that sense, though I'd say the Australians were at the bottom of that heap." He looked over at G and laughed.

One of their friends, a Belgian with a beautiful dark haired wife who is said to be quite an accomplished cellist told us, "C's French is actually quite good, but there are times when we get a little confused. For example, he told us that you were a famous cellist in Japan." He looked in my direction.

"Oh, no! You must be so disappointed!"

He didn't say, but they must have been! They were supposed to join us for dinner at Chez Jacky but they never did show up.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Summer Solstice 2006 (Paris)

There is something pagan about Paris that I love. Even its Catholicism, you feel, is just a front of its pagan roots.

Every year, on June 21, Paris turns into a giant block party. It's the day of La Fete de la Musique, or Music Festival. Bands pop up on every corner, sidewalk nook and plaza all around the city. One year, one street had a line of 40 pianos!

Our Latin Quarter was, of course, no exception.
B had a string of bands lined up to play and was nervous all day, watching the skies threatening to pour any minute, taking me along on shopping trips for necessities like toilet paper for the bar, and being generally restless.

Big Dog and I left him to his preparations and walked down to Rue Descartes/Rue Mouffetard where Verlaine once lived with Rimbaud. Here, too, there was music everywhere. A choir performance at the local centuries-old church, a loud grunge band (quite good) who turned out to be 3 elementary school kids... Near the Pantheon, a friar played with his band, and on the corner of Rue Soufflot, a Very French Gainsbourg-like guitarist played twangy, reverb-laden guitar.

"They like American music, don't they!"
"And they like American cinema," said Big Dog.
"I guess they like a lot of American stuff."
"Except the President."

Rue Royer Collard, B's street was also getting ready to party.

When we got back from dinner with friends, at 11pm, the tiny street was a zoo -- and it just got crazier and crazier...

until finally the cops came through at 2:30am to put a stop to the music.

By then, there was a bit of the devil in all of us.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Some Photos (Latin Quarter, Montparnasse, et al Paris)

Here's B's bar, Le Pantalon. He named it thus because it's close to the Pantheon. A French pun, of sorts.

After taking Hanako, for a walk, B took me and Big Dog through the Jardin du Luxembourg to his favorite fountain.

And then to Montparnasse to meet The Boys -- the French Contingent, our friends from Boracay in the early 80's.

Yoyo went on to live in the Cote D'Ivoire, survived its many coups, and is now running a huge business operation there. Franco has a travel agency in Montparnasse that creates tours for young people.

We got B back to work, finally, then went off on B & G's bicycles to play tourist.

I am drawn to the creepier aspects of religious architecture. The Notre Dame has plenty of them. Sinners being hauled off to hell, demons shoving them into boiling cauldrons...

At night, B&G took us up to the rooftop of his (other) cousin's apartment, one of the highest spots in Paris. Just as we got up there, the Eiffel Tower put on a sparkling, bubbling champagne show of lights -- more bling than J.Lo could handle! Unfortunately digital photography cannot capture its beauty at all. But the Pantheon, next door, is pretty nice in this photo, n'est ce pas?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Well (Latin Quarter, Paris)

Big Dog and I do not stay in hotels by choice. If that is our only option, so be it, but if there is an alternative, that will be our way. Here, we are extremely fortunate to have friends who will put us up (and put up with us.)

We've known B from our early 80's Boracay days, when the tiny Filipino island was a sleepy, forgotten place with no electricity, running water, gas or much of anything else. B was part of a French Contingent who arrived on the white sand beaches in black leather shoes. There were only a handful of lodges run by the local fishing families, so everyone knew everyone back then and became fast friends with these French dudes. B stayed on after the rest left, making bamboo saxophones and nose flutes, so we saw even more of him back then.

We didn't see much of each other during the 90's, but last summer, B and his girlfriend G, came to the US for the first time and stayed with us as we hammered away on the renovation of a 120 year old Victorian house.

Now we are in Paris, enjoying their warm hospitality.

B runs a bar in the Latin Quarter. Our room here is in the back of that narrow, smoke-filled bar. B & G live across the courtyard in a tiny but functional apartment, so that's where we shower, etc. It's all Very Bohemian!

Now, in our room, there is a well. Yes! A real well! Not an operating well, but an ancient relic from the days that Paris was not Paris of today but a city in the Roman Empire. B discovered the well as he was renovating this room which used to be a commercial kitchen. The floor was higher here than in the bar, so he lowered it by about a foot and a half and in doing so, came across a buried well. Because it was so ancient, he dug down into the well, exposing the antique masonry (amazing! they actually cut the rocks to a curve, instead of using layers of smaller, rectangular stones) put a tube of lights down the well and a glass cover. It's an artful part of the room decor now.

B told us that the Latin Quarter is the oldest part of Paris. It was "Old Town" in the Middle Ages! The first people to settle Paris created their village on top of a hill. The Pantheon is at the crest of this hill and the area was once walled. I know next to nothing about the Pantheon but maybe there once was a real temple here, with rowdy pagan rituals. In the airline magazine I read on my way over, they said that the Latin Quarter was called such because of the many universities here -- Latin being the language of the students -- but B says that it's because this was the city during the Roman times.

Because this well is so, so old -- thousands of years old -- B said that his jealous neighbor told him "it's not only for you, you know." B told him, "hey, if you want it that badly, take it."

In Japan, though, wells are kind of creepy things. (Have you seen the movie, The Ring?) I had to keep the light on in the well all night and still imagined all sorts of things coming out of it. And when I went to use the bar toilet in the middle of the night, I had to step on the glass that covers the well but I tried not to walk directly over it, instead, tiptoeing along the edge. It scares me and thrills me to think of what this well could tell us -- all the truths it knows.

On the Road Again (Tokyo - Paris)

...or actually, in the air again. Left Tokyo on the 19th on an Air France flight to Paris. The last time I was there was in 1977! How much has Paris changed since then? How much have I?

You know how they have those screens showing your flight course on planes these days? I had my screen set for that during the last several hours of my flight and the icon that was supposed to be our plane looked like nothing less than a giant missile, an ICBM, a giant... It was very phallic. Oh, those masculin Gauls! I don't know how it is on other European carriers but you would never see such a thing on asexual Asian carriers or Puritanical American carriers.

It was also quite disconcerting. I felt like I was on a warhead about to blow Paris to smithereens. Very aggressive.

It was only much, much later, near the end of the flight that I saw that this penile protrusion actually had wings, but that they were black and blended in with the black, dark green and brown of the map. Kind of like camouflage wings. (They ought to do that on real planes.)

I was a bit disappointed, though, knowing that the icon was supposed to be a regular plane with wings instead of that missile.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mikawaya Ryokan (Hakone, Japan)

I just came back from a trip to an onsen, a hot spring resort, with my 75 year old mother.

Anyone who's been here knows how the Japanese, despite their outward pride in their traditions, really don't care much about the past. I think that's one of the reasons why they don't teach history properly in their schools. It's a shame (and it shames me -- especially the official attitudes towards the atrocities that happened during Japan's military rule), but deep down, most people think "What's the big deal? It's the past. We've moved on." I don't understand how you can move on without confronting the truth. At the same time, I do understand that this "always moving forward" IS Japan's energy. So while many cities around the world take great care in preserving its architecture, Tokyoites feel nothing about razing landmarks to create new ones.
Between the time I was here last and this time, Omotesando has undergone a huge "renewal." That's a word they love to use. There used to be an apartment complex midway down Omotesando called the Dojunkai Apartments. They were built just before the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 to house participating athletes and then were used as apartments. For the last several decades, these apartments were mostly tiny shops and galleries. They're no longer there. Replaced, instead, by a truly ugly new "Omotesando Hills," another feather in the cap of the Mori Building Empire. A friend of mine who works for Mr. Mori occasionally told me, "but the Dojunkai Apartments were no longer safe!" when I told her how ugly I thought the new complex was and what a shame they had to tear down the old buildings. I can't believe that with Japan's advanced technology and Mori's massive wealth that they couldn't have done something to preserve the exterior of the old buildings and still make it earthquake proof.
Everywhere you look, there is construction going on. Tokyo's skyline is constantly changing, always unfinished. The unfinished construction of buildings in rural Mexico and the Philippines, those concrete block buildings with re-bar sticking out of roofs, always amuse Big Dog and me, and I used to say that even though they were not pretty, they looked like little prayers for a better future. The re-bar was there so you could add more floors as the family became wealthier or bigger. There is no exposed re-bar in Japanese buildings, but the steel frames, the construction cranes, the always-something-under-construction sights here are just plain ugly and feel more like hubris than "little prayers."

Thus, it was especially delightful to get out of Tokyo and go to an onsen ryokan, a hot spring inn, that had been in business since the Meiji Era! Mikawaya Ryokan is a gorgeous, 123 year old ryokan set in the hills of Hakone. Everyone there was so gracious and subtly attentive. And at night, my mother and I shuffled down to a park across the street in our yukata, to see fireflies! Real ones! (At the Four Seasons/Chinzanso Hotel in Tokyo, you can also see fireflies, but they are specially bred ones. I don't think there are any naturally existing fireflies in Tokyo anymore.) Fragile, pulsing neon green fairies, the male fireflies light up their butts to court the females.

"Look at my butt! Look at my butt!"
"Oooo. I like the shine of your butt! Let's do it!"

Besides the wonderfully soothing hot spring baths and the carefully crafted kaiseki dinner, I just loved being inside the centuries old building. In a land of constant change, it was soothing to be able to touch, physically, something that old. A wonderful experience for me in my last few days in Japan.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Anais Nin Past

It's only been a few days since I started this blog.

What I love about blogs is the unselfconsciousness. When you are getting paid to write, there's a certain amount of self-consciousness no matter what. And for my taste, any amount is pretentious, therefore, false. I guess that's what I love about the web, too. The general anarchy. How interesting would it be if it were governed by rules, a hierarchy, a power structure? Anyone with access to the web can be involved! (I wrote an article about this for a Japanese web magazine -- only in Japanese, sorry!)

At the same time, because it's a free for all, there's also a lot of crap out there, too. And previously, I guess I felt I didn't have time to sift through it all. But what's been amazing me is not the amount of cruddy blogs -- the "I went here, I did that" stuff -- but the truly thought-provoking, mind-bending, foundation-shattering stuff (there, I used that word again. Oh, I am such a pitiful writer.) that's there. You would expect it to be only the hack, unreadable blogs. But no! People who could actually get paid to write do this for nothing! Well, not for nothing, but you know what I mean.

I've kept journals off and on throughout my life. I was a pre-pubescent Anais Nin! Recently, I've gotten reacquainted with a poet friend (through the internet! Isn't it grand!) and he said that "journals keep you honest." I do know what he means. I almost never re-read the things I wrote. The past bores me (more on this in another entry.) But I remember finding a few loose sheets when I was packing or unpacking or whatever during the last few gypsy years and being absolutely stunned.

"Did that really happen? Did I really feel that way? Wow!" My memory is especially selective, so I probably buried the memory, or "rewrote" it. I should have been an editor.

I started thinking about my poet friend's comment. And then I started to think back on my miserable adolescence where I had many made-up lives because the one I was living was too miserable for me. My journal certainly wasn't honest. Not in the normal sense of the word. But it was a real reflection of my lonely soul. One that had to make up friends -- and write about them! As if they were real! Very sad, but very real part of my past. So in that sense, my journals were very honest, even when I wasn't.

Funny how I am writing about all of this now. In this blog. Where anyone can read it. I am such a private person, I never bare my soul and yet I am telling the world. Sort of. Maybe no one is here. Maybe no one is reading any of this. No one ever leaves any comments. I am both relieved and disappointed. But way more relieved.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saturday Midnight Haiku (Tokyo)

black and white and grey
here's a picture of my past
i keep, to forget

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hit Parade (Ryogoku, Tokyo)

The Japanese are great readers. It's wonderful in be in a country where everyone is literate, there is a bookstore on every corner (nearly) and so much to read, so easily accessible. I think there must be more magazines published here than anywhere else.

A lot of it is fluff, of course.

I went to the Edo-Tokyo Museum yesterday. Fun place with a very extensive exhibit of Edo Period artifacts and such. The Edo Period ranged from the 1600's to the 1800's and tt was interesting to see how even as early as the 1600's people loved printed matter. And it was not at all high-brow. One of the most popular items were "rankings." These were single sheets with "hit charts" of everything from popular poets to meals. You still see them in magazines today. "The Top 10 Curry Houses" "The Best Resort Hotels" etc., etc. so it was funny seeing "The Best Grilled Eel Restaurants," "The Wealthiest Merchants," "Best Kabuki Actors" and so on from the Edo Period.

Why did they love these banzuke so much? Is it a reflection of the hierarchical nature of Japanese society?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Oh, Shirt! (Takadanobaba, Tokyo)

In my previous life as a hyphenated workaholic (film/video producer-media personality-writer) I never had enough time. Now I'm in my goof-off phase. The time I suddenly have is delicious beyond belief. I'm actually spending time on the net, too. That's why I decided to do a blog. I'd been talking about it for a while, but a friend told me about hers and it inspired me enough to stop waiting for a designer friend to help me but to go at it on my own.

Another blog I am a regular visitor to is The Homesick Home. A fellow workaholic clued me into this one when I was telling her how much I miss Japan now that I'm away most of the time. And since becoming a Blogspot Blogger, I discovered My Life with Bad English. I went there thinking it might be a collection of really Bad English but was pleasantly surprised to find it was another Cross Cultural Experience blog. (The Russian dude who posts videos here, tells us the story of when he arrived in the US and went into a place that had tons of clothes. He and his friend ransacked the place looking for a cool T-shirt. Something with English on it. A freaked out woman came out saying "What are you doing here?" "We're looking for a T-shirt!" She realized then that these dudes were not American. "Uhhhh, this is a dry cleaner…" Blogger Dude tells it much better. Check it out.)

I think there is a world wide subculture of Cross Cultural People. Some were always. Some became, later in life. But no matter, we share a common bond. There are things that people who've never really experienced another culture will never get.

But that's not what I wanted to tell you today. The Bad English and T-shirt story reminded me of a T-shirt I made for my (soul)mate Big Dog back in the 80's. He was in a gaijin band called The Flyboys and I made him a T-shirt that said "Flyboy" in Old Japanese Kanji characters. The kind of font you see on Kabuki posters. 飛行少年 If your computer shows kanji fonts, you'll see "hikoshonen" there. Literally, Flight/Fly Boy. But, if you write "hikoshonen" like this 非行少年 it means Juvenile Delinquent. So it was a little pun, a joke.

Big Dog would wear this T-shirt and sometimes Japanese people would come up to him and ask him if he knew what it meant.
"Of course I do. I'm not Japanese."

About a month ago, Big Dog was also here in Tokyo. As we descended from the platform to the exit of Takadanobaba Station, we saw this girl walking in front of us with a photo-worthy message shirt. We had to get a picture. Big Dog dogged her down the stairs and into a kiosk where he snapped this photo. We thought it was quite funny and wanted to share the joke with Shirt Girl. But when Big Dog went up to her to show her the shot he just took, she gave him a quick, disgusted look (it was so unnecessary! your shirt says it all!) and stomped away. She didn't look at her photo. Hey, Sister, if you can't take it, don't wear it!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Eyes Wide Open (Tokyo)

Traveling is a wonderful thing for training the eyes to see. Really see. Be wide awake. Every sight, taste, smell, sound and touch is new. Even when it's strangely familiar, the strangeness of its familiarity makes the experience novel. That's why vacations are so nice -- it's a great break from everyday monotony.

But as you make traveling your lifestyle, and new encounters, new experiences become more ordinary, day to day, you find that you're looking at the world differently from before. Because you expect the unusual, your eyes are searching it out.

I'm in Tokyo now. A place I used to call home, boring, home. A place I couldn't wait to get out of. But now, I am seeing my former home through different eyes -- searching for the unexpected, amusing, curious. And they are all around me. How could I have missed it all before? Everything is noteworthy. Nothing, absolutely nothing is boring.

I have developed Traveler Eyes.

Here's a photo from a recent subway ride. Look at how relaxed people are in Japan! But then, how relaxed could it be if they need a "women only" car? (To protect us from probing hands and other body parts.) And finally, the person on the right. Man or woman? Both?

Friday, June 02, 2006

An unaimed arrow...

...never misses.
Where I am is where I want to be.
Where I'm going is where I want to go.