The Quantum Leap Journal #5, 5/4/14

05/06/2014 § Leave a comment


I would rather go running right now than go to this classical music concert, but my landlord is in the choir and Ive been planning to see this for half a year.

Mr.Nakanaka sang tenor in Carmina Burana by Carl Orff in the community orchestra choir today. It starts and ends with the song O Fortuna, for which a few years ago Rachel Maddow said it had become the theme song for a lot of apocalyptic anti-Obamacare commercials. Its a fiery choral piece designed to put the fear of God in you. It was used in Oliver Stones The Doors, Excalibur, Speed, Glory, Last of the Mohicans, Matrix Revolution, Glee, etc;  Pittsburgh Pirate and Washington Redskin games, and commercials for Old Spice, Hersheys and Old Carlton Beer commercials.  

I got depressed this morning, doubting that I will find a job with an outfit that can sponsor my visa this month.  I felt like a social pariah, a Wolf of the Steppes; a Steppenwolf.  People look at me and see a beast who would tear down their society.  Parents of my students must think I want to avenge Pearl Harbor on their children.  And sometimes I do want to tear down everything.  But really, I just want to tear down the structure of my familys scapegoating ways.

I remember Mom walking into my room when I was a lad, always breaking something I was making without realizing it, like once it was a model spaceship, and punishing me for telling her that she broke it.  It made no sense to an 8-year-old.  Ive often imagined myself grabbing a garroting wire and twisting it around her neck.  I didnt want to kill her, I just wanted her to stop breaking my things and stepping all over me for no reason.  But no matter how I played this fantasy in my mind, she wouldnt give in. I could never visualize her making a consession or apologizing, probably because Ive never seen her do either.  Shes like a dumb beast herself, a hound, a vulture.  That she might be wrong doesnt enter her mind.  Its like teaching Cartesian Geometry to a mouse.  Punishing her for what she doesnt understand awakens the savage in her. What she doesnt understand is the independence of other people.

Punishing her in order to teach her the value of respecting others would be utterly useless.  Its like punishing a wolf for being a wolf.  Its what she is. She is the Wolf of the Steppes; not me.

Every time I get depressed, I have to find a way to remember again! that Ive been trained to shoulder her burden of self-loathing so she can be rid of it.  Every time I get melancholic, I have to find my way blindly to disconnecting her self-loathing all over again.

Today, the classical performance stimulated that horrible isolation in me, then purged it. I felt hope that I will find this job in the 6 weeks I have.  Steps I need to take to combat all my nagging self-doubt took the shape of the musical themes the singers and musicians were performing.  I found my way back into my body, breathing comfortably into my upper back and relaxing my load.

I did go running afterward, in the park a kilometer away from my house.  Its been half a year since I went.  Keeping my spirits up is going to require vigorous aerobic exercise.  Im going to have to manage my whole life differently.  I walked one lap, jogged a second and paced a third.

On the way home, I stopped at a fish joint and ordered cold noodles in fish broth; Uosuke Tsukemen. Next to me, two young men took the table with a built-in grill in it.  The waitress fired it up, and put a foiled package on the grill.  I thought it was a baked potato, and ordered the same.  It turned out to be squid tentacles in gravy.  

There was no grill on my table, so we cooked it on theirs.  And then we started up a conversation, entirely in Japanese.  This is how you learn languages.  The game is to try to communicate as complex an idea as you can using the words I already know. Plus the language dictionary in your cell phone if you really need it.

So I ended my day of brooding by partying hearty with two strangers, Kazuhiro and Ryosuke.  They came down from the neighboring prefecture to play the horses at the nearby track.  I drank 4 beers with them.  We shot photos of each other, asked lots of questions, and showed pics and videos on our smart phones, and got on each others Facebook page.  I showed them “Let Us Play With Your Look” on YouTube by Jimmy Fallon and Anna Hathaway, and damned if these two guys didn’t love it!  The skit is very Japanese in its humor.  

I crashed as soon as I got home. Its going to be hard to get back to job hunting tomorrow.


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