Tuesday, October 10, 2006

how i lost my pictures of japan, or: may i have another serving of stupid?

hello, and welcome back to the show. i have a headache from a phantom ponytail i cut off five years ago, but that's all flavor for the mix, read on:
my computer has emerged good as new from the miraculous hands of mr. ito, but my brain wasn't so lucky. in a severe irony, i managed to delete a big chunk of the photo files i was attempting to back up. go figure. how a decently computer-savvy girl like myself succeeded in such a stunt is baffling, but i'm working with some undelete software, so we'll see what comes out of it.
[later: it looks like i may have saved all my files...thank you File Salvage! isn't the malleability of electronic information fascinating? one minute i'm gasping at the loss of all my picture memories of japan, and the next i'm calmly browsing through them again.]
as i mentioned before, my computer was completely non-functional for a week. i knew someone was in there, but the screen was black, and that was all i could do. for the first time in my life, i faced the possible loss of SEVEN years of art documentation, original writing, digital photos, and let's not forget (or underestimate) the music. when i feel discouraged here in the land of the Sun Rises Too Damn Early, i gather my digitized family and friends around me, and their smiling faces renew my courage. having that small comfort stripped from me was heartbreaking. i began mourning pictures of my mom on our last camping trip, poetry i wrote in college, and all the special things i've captured since i've come to japan. i've never backed up a thing in my life. why? because i suck. note to self: don't suck. now i have successfully backed up even the freshly deleted/recovered files! [you put your data in, you take your data out, you put your data in, and you shake it all about...] i'll never manage to disentangle myself from all my digital photos again.
since i'm feeling all sentimental, i'd like to include two poems i wrote in college that i still have now because of the miraculous mr. ito. you don't have to think they're good, but you have to understand that i'm happy they're not lost.


You breathe a swirling, curling hot promise
For a ricochet heartbeat at dawn
Artificial adrenaline pumping through
B-leached blood, my ceylon.

Daily Observations: 02-09-02

four perfect white ovals tap like teeth in boiling water.
i am making lunch.
i shake water from bright, tender lettuce
and carry it to the table on a clean plate.
as I turn back to the stove,
a movement on the sidewalk below
pulls my attention down,
four stories down,
a ragged man cradles delicately in his dirty hand
a crumpled paper napkin
in which is nestled a treasure i cannot see.
he so softly folds back
papery white corners
as you would to peer at an antique watch
or a hurt bird.
Revealed instead
Is a piece of bread.

ANYWAY, i had a marvelous weekend trip to tokyo, enhanced by a zing of giddiness resulting from my restored computer. heavy rains threatened to close the trains to tsu, where i was supposed to catch my friend marina and our bus to tokyo, but happily this didn't happen. at 11:05pm, marina and i hopped on what is known as the Night Bus. i admit to some romantic ideas caused by the similarly-named Knight Bus of Harry Potter, but they were quickly dashed to bits by the very normal bus that showed up and ushered us off. since we were only paying 105 bucks each (roundtrip!) for a nine hour ride, they didn't seem obliged to provide us with luxuries like shocks or leg room. it was a near-sleepless, and incredibly bouncy ride, complete with accomplished snore-ers and various parts of my body going to sleep without me. but hell, when i woke up (or opened my eyes for the 200th time), i was in tokyo!
step 1: get coffee. ahhhh, the first (and finest) cappuccino i've had in japan.
step 2: find the famous Tsukiji fish market and nearly get run over about 85 times by mad fish movers (is this mr. toad's wild ride?). see all varieties of dead and soon-dead sea creatures, including already breaded but still alive lobsters, writhing buckets of baby eels, huge ruby chunks of tuna, boxes of fish heads, octopii, and a bunch of things i've never seen before.

the mournful eye of a red snapper.

ruby tuna.

lauren with the tako.

this was seriously the freakiest thing in the whole place! writhing, roiling buckets of eels. (oh my!)

fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads....

step 3: buy the freshest sashimi in the world ($15 for about 40 pieces of tuna!), and hunt for a nice picnic spot.

step 4: relax in a park during the most perfectly gorgeous day i can imagine.
step 5: find a tower and try to get to the top to see out (naturally). we were stunned at our success and the VIEW from the viewdeck in St. Luke's hospital (FREE!). if you see a scary hospital sculpture garden, you're getting close.

the rest of our time was shopping, eating, giggling, and just enjoying the CITY. i think it's one of the best cities in the world. not only do you walk around feeling incredibly free and safe at all times, but it's clean, and the people smell good. unlike new york, no one slobs around in ugly pants and oversized t-shirts. fashion is always visible, and most people walk around looking--let's be honest--like awesome was born in japan.

yep, that famous intersection from Lost in Translation.

another highlight was seeing my dear friend Massa again. it's so easy to forget we're in the same country! visiting her house and family after five years was the weirdest deja-vu ever. the first time i visited, i wasn't sure i'd ever have a chance to return (they didn't thow me out of the country or anything, it just isn't always possible, you know). here i am, doing just what i dreamed. even weirder was remembering most of the way to her house through convoluted nameless streets. i guess i still have part of my brain left.
love, me


  1. But how did Tokyo smell? Was it different than the other grossly overpopulated port cities around the world? (e.g. cat pee, exhaust fumes and mass emotional isolation.)
    Haven't thought of Fish Heads in years! 'They don't play baseball...'

  2. excellent question! i can't believe i neglected to discuss this facet of tokyo. i'll include that in the next post!