Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Knew That?

Tales from Room cleaning II.

Found an old History of Japan exam. Let's see how I'd do if tested today!

5. Discuss the causes and results of the Meiji Restoration. First, define it either narrowly, as the change in government in 1868, or broadly, as the change of government plus the sweeping social, economic, and political changes of the following twenty years. Then proceed.

Uh... the thing about the Meiji Restoration (of 1868 of course) is that it or she or he restored all or most or some of the Meiji back to where it had been removed and needed restoration, socially, economically, and most importantly, politically. By 1888 (twenty years of changes after 1868 of course) things were socially, economically, and politically different, sweepingly. PleaseIneedthiscredittograduate. This is clear when one looks at the quantity of Meiji because many had been restored.

Uh-oh. Meiji Restoration guy looks pretty disappointed.

Looking back at Looking Back

Cleaning out my room.
I have about 100 half filled journals. Considering scanning and freeing up some volume...

This is an excerpt from late high school. It's about looking back at my early high school writing about a crush and knowing it ends unreciprocated.

I am not that person. We are different. Nonetheless the optimistic light in which most of the entries find themselves in turns my stomach. The loss of one is the gaining of the other. Innocence Experience.

I see an innocent boy wanting the best. I read his hopes and, although no tears come, my stomach aches. Like watching a bad stand-up comic waiting for laughs that won't come. I read words coming from the pen of the truly naive. I know there is an unhappy ending, I've already seen that movie (hell, I'm in it!).
I wish we had Cornflakes for tomorrow morning's breakfast.

I love how naive they both seem to me. How these words seem silly to you, future me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Washington DC

DC is the America that I did not expect.

The announcer for the Metro had a lot of character. Cracking jokes, relaying travel advice and naming the next stop as if he hadn't been doing it forever. There is no fashionable shopping, only free museums and used bookstores. People read in public (saw two Vonnegut-ers). People jog, lots of fit bodies. It's a friendly collection of enthusiastic tourists. I traveled to the NE of town to visit a Salvation Army store. I found myself the only white person on the streets watching female police officers with their notepads out, interviewing tired looking people.

The sounds of sirens are frequent throughout the city. There is a multitude of security agencies, FBI, local DC Police, private guards. A man in a suit stands on top of the White House, using binoculars to watch the gate where the tourists gather. A child waves and he waves back. Between the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building a row of free museums and galleries displaying stuffed orangutans, Nigerian art, the capsule that the crew of Apollo 11 returned in, Watson and the Shark, brutal images of the Holocaust on the Eastern Front, paintings of plump nineteenth century children, a V2 rocket, dimetrodon bones, and I didn't go into them all.

Museum fatigue is a challenge and it's nice to head a half hour west where you can stay outside and enjoy the memorial architecture. WWII fountain, the Vietnam Wall, giant Abraham Lincoln, and the hidden gem the Korean War Memorial which I hope to make famous one day by filming at night in the rain.

DC restaurants are on a familiar 'healthy, organic, fresh'. Eating out is pleasant and quite expensive -grocery stores do not exist.

The city prides itself on their global botany. Plants bear tiny plaques explaining their Japanese or Maryland or wherever heritage. Actually, the beautiful old trees run the city. It is very common to see the red brick sidewalks rippling up in waves as the root systems destroy them. Washington DC seems okay with nature bubbling up. I've never stumbled so much in a city. I overestimated American lawsuit culture.

Meanwhile, Liz was working at the Library of Congress which, like the Smithsonian, is actually a grouping of separate buildings. The days were sweltering (still, a break from Egypt). Lots of nice dates. A great Korean brunch (Mandu), Ethiopian lunch, and we caught a few movies. A clean, air-conditioned room to retreat to and prepare breakfast with the microwave, two mugs, and a bowl Liz borrowed from the hotel restaurant.

The one glitch, I didn't bring my laptop and found my writing process to be ineffective. I produced many illegible lists, abandon upon return because they involve too much retyping. I did manage to work myself into an excited frenzy for the writing that I'm doing now. This trip was a break for me after the exhausting Trip of Plagues and I spent my days wandering, listening to psychology lectures, and reading about Ned Kelly. The driving reason I went was to share the beginning and end of each day with Liz. There were many surreal moments of satisfaction when I realized that she was actually beside me.

Took sixteen hours of buses there and about nineteen to get home. I am a professional at sleeping on planes but I'd get cut from the National bus napping squad. I can't get the lights out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Where did I go?

I was never bitten by the 'travel bug', considering myself more of a people person than a place person. We're in the golden age of consumption and I don't know if air travel can possibly exist in the same way in your world. Travel has dominated your great great grand's life for the past five months.

It was fun to cross the Atlantic Ocean four times in ten days (in order to MC at my cousin's terrific wedding). I got to imagine my carbon footprint crushing polar bear cubs. The worst travel was the eighteen hour bus home from DC. The most memorable time was South Korea -thanks to Liz, Tom, Simon, and Foster. The worst was working this summer on the 'Trip of the Great Plague'. Stories to follow (including the full itinerary and daily ratings of the legendary trip to South Korea).

Now begins the long and enjoyable process of reflection and writing. I had planned to blog all along my journey but here we are. The only thing I wrote was that last post when the constant uprooting finally started putting cracks in my spirit. I will be creating a nice collection of stories to streamline the catching up process with my friends.

That's me in the War Memorial of Korea (a war museum with a touch of target-shooting interactivity).

Work - School Semester Program.
Paris, France. 9 days.
Strasbourg, France. 4 days.
Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. 4 days.
Munich, Germany. 5 days.
Venice, Italy. 6 days.
Tuscany (region), Italy. 9 days.
Rocca Mare, Italy. 4 days.
Rome, Italy. 7 days.
Olympia, Greece. 1 day.
Tolo, Greece. 5 days.
Athens, Greece. 5 days.
Santorini, Greece. 7 days.
Mykonos, Greece. 6 days.
Athens, Greece. 2 days.

Back home.
Brampton, Canada. 1 day
Toronto, Canada. 1 day.

Travel with Liz.
Seoul, South Korea. 4 days.
Gapyeoung, South Korea. 1 day.
Seoul, South Korea. 5 days.
Busan, South Korea. 1 day
Seoul, South Korea. 3 days.

Back Home
Brampton, Canada. 2 days.

Work - Summer Program
Rome, Italy. 3 days.
Toronto, Canada. 1 day.
Rome Italy. 3 days.
Ravello, Italy. 4 days.
Olympia, Greece. 2 days.
Tolo, Greece. 6 days.
Athens, Greece. 5 days.
Nile Cruise (Luxor to Aswan), Egypt. 5 Days.
Cairo, Egypt. 5 days.

Back Home
Brampton, Canada. 1 day.

Visiting Liz (sent to work at Library of Congress)
Washington DC, USA. 8 days.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Look Past the Collapse

I'm burning out. Egypt to go. Knowledge is meaningless. Everything I anticipate and understand I cannot prevent from happening. I became my job. The line blurred and now its success if my success. When you try to avoid clear choices you make them in sinister ways. I've always known that and here I am again. I miss Liz and reading Joan Dideon's Year of Magical Thinking has convinced me that every plane I board will crash. Five times I die before I'm home and rational people will read this and claim that everything happens for a reason. It doesn't you dumb beautiful sons of bitches.

I know that, after the performance, all the stress of the show is shed and I look to what is next. This dark spell forgotten. I like Sara's blog. Keep a sense of humour about everything. The Spartans did. There will be so many arrows falling upon you they will blot out the sun, Sparta lol, then we'll fight in the shade.

I need to work as hard for myself as I do for other people. I can make a long list of things that I know. But unless they're habit, irrational-formed-in-childhood habit then I can't see doing them. Catharsis. Purge it all and be reborn. The people on TV don't age.