Monday, November 20, 2006

Prodigal Son Returns... and Re-returns

Alright. Enough putting this off. I had to surf to my own blog to refresh my memory of my last posting. June! Ridiculous. I’m not going to get into why I didn’t post anything up, because at this point it’s been said before, only this time to a much larger degree. Sufficed to say my life has not been completely stagnant, and therefore I will now indulge you with a description of my most recent exploits.

I finally left Japan! I apologize if the previous sentence is somewhat deceiving, since it does not imply my final departure, but rather a short (very short) vacation in California with my folks. It was only ten days, but well worth the long flights. Actually, the trip from Tokyo to L.A. was really no sweat. I don’t know what made it go by so quickly, but it did. Time was not my friend however when it came time to pick up my bags, and I was left standing alone, the last person from my flight at the baggage carousel as I waited for my guitar to come through. When it did I was out the door, and greeted lovingly by my dad, whom I had not seen in over a year.

Let me tell you, if you’ve never been to California, it’s a beautiful place. Not so much in and around the parts of L.A. that buffer the airport, but once you get going south past the O.C. on the highway it’s quite nice; more specifically the area around my parent’s house in Solana Beach. The flora and its manicured, landscaped beauty is a welcome change from the systematic but grand beauty of Japan. Also, and I’m not sure exactly why, but the Pacific looks so much better from stateside. Maybe it’s the general lack of cloud cover. Yeah, that’s probably it.

So let’s see. I could easily spend many paragraphs discussing my observations of social, cultural and other differences, but I don’t think they would necessarily make for engrossing reading material. I’ll keep it short. It’s no joke when people say that there is an obesity problem in the U.S. Also, the work ethic in Japan is unparalleled. No matter the job, Japanese are glad to do it, (or at least seem to on the surface), and they will tell you so over and over again. Here you do battle for who can say the final thank you, whereas in the states you’re lucky if you get greeted warmly or with more than a few short words when you walk into a restaurant. Other than that I can’t really say there was much of a sense of culture shock for me, or I suppose reverse culture shock in this case, but I’ll be able to explore these themes further when I return on a more permanent basis.

In terms of activities while in California, I spent most of my time just relaxing at the house. Let me tell you, the creature comforts were fully appreciated. Before leaving Japan my folks had asked me for a menu of dishes I would like prepared, and they definitely came through on all counts. Although I’m not happy to say that I put on some weight from the trip, I was more than happy to indulge myself while I was there. A big thank you undoubtedly goes to my mom for preparing all my favorite childhood dishes and for stocking the house with plenty of bagels and a box of Golden Grams. Other than food one of my greatest joys was being able to watch basketball. Although I check the NBA website all the time, it in no way satisfies the way live action does. And since I was on the west coast I was able to see all of my favorite teams play, except the Raptors, but who cares since they are again in last place this season. Ah well. Rebuilding, they say. Meh. Oh, but one other quick thing to note is that I forgot about television commercials and their utter inanity. I’ve been downloading my TV for over a year, and kind of forgot about their existence. I suppose that I’m just not used to them anymore, but how can people stand it!?!?

So I do want to make it clear that although food and basketball were much appreciated, there is no comparison with being able to spend time with my folks. Mom and I speak often enough over MSN or on the phone, but we had several very intense conversations while I was with them, and I relished every one of them. I had forgotten what it was like to talk to her like that. And thinking this really makes me understand why she made such a big deal about missing me so much, and about not wanting me to come back to Japan. It was just nice to be able to share ideas and information in ways that I haven’t done in several years. And my Dad. What a guy. I think he took three or four days off of work just so he could spend time with me. We spent a couple of days exploring downtown San Diego since I had never been there before, and we even got to a couple of spots he had never seen including Point Loma, where Cabrillo became the first European to touch down on the west coast of what would become the United States. There was an incredible view, albeit somewhat mired by the haze that day, looking east back over the bay towards downtown, and facing west nothing but blue on blue. It was great to joke around with him, and to share some new music since I burned a bunch of CDs he had been wanting to listen to.

Speaking of music, that reminds me of another well-appreciated aspect of my trip: live music. Twice during my stay I was able to make my way down to the Belly Up Club. The first time was on the Tuesday night, and my mom and I went to see guitar legend Adrian Belew. The music wasn’t exactly what I normally go for, and the crowd was comprised mostly of fourty-something prog-rock heads, but Belew’s skills on the axe cannot be questioned. The second time was Saturday night for The Brand New Heavies. This time all three of us went and had reserved seats in the balcony for a funk extravaganza. The band had great energy, especially the bouncy, petite lead singer who frolicked all over the stage while pumpin’ out the good vibes to the absolutely packed audience. Again, the music wasn’t quite on point for me, but it was a very good show, and they did kick out some nice jams.

And then it was over. Somehow my dad and I beat the insane L.A. traffic back to the airport and I was off. The whole trip was really just a flash in the pan, but a wholly welcome one. And now I’m back in my apartment, and it’s almost like things never changed…

Oh, but they have. I’ve noticed when walking down the street, that I am much more in my own world than before. There is a sense of distance, definitely self-manufactured, that is in play. This is most likely due to my forthcoming departure at the end of January. That’s right... it’s finally time. But instead of heading back to North America, I’ll be heading off on the adventure of a lifetime with my boy Christian MacInnis, who himself just concluded a visit with his folks, done however on this side of the ocean. We leave on the 27th for parts semi-unknown. One way tickets have been purchased to Singapore, and from there we will begin by working our way northward through Malaysia. I’m hoping that this blog entry will spur more in the near future so that by the time I’m in Southeast Asia I’ll be raring to document everything. I’ve decided on a three-fold plan of attack: a written journal, copious amounts of photographs, and also video. Although the screaming fans will have to wait for my return to digest the writings and photos, I will be posting videos to YouTube along the way. I’ve actually already got one up there from the Adrian Belew show if you care to watch. My user name is Farbulous007, so you can just search for that.

So for now adieu, and hopefully I will be more diligent in the near future when it comes to keeping track of my many adventures, or at least ramblings, so that there aren’t giant gaping holes in my memory where the blog can’t fill things in.

Lots of love to everyone on both sides of the ocean. Hope you are happy and well.

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Blogger Dave Rinehart said...

Hey man, it's Dave! Just wanted to stop by and say...Golden Grahams rule. Take it easy, hope to see you soon.

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave Rinehart is hysterical!!!!

Love you.

Guess who?

9:25 AM  

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