And our love become a funeral pyre.

I have learned something about myself since I’ve come to Japan. When it comes to dealing with heights that border on astronomical, “heights” and the danger that the “heights” hold, will awakes make me their bitch.

This decline in the ability to engage gravity in a round of fisticuffs actually started at my sister’s house. One day, my family and I were departing her company and I had noticed that she had some weeds growing out of the seams of her chimney. After we had made comments about it being the only house on her block with such an adornment, I eyeballed the roof, got her ladder out, and began my ascent.

Once I got on the roof, away from the ladder, I fully saw that the pitch of the roof was actually deeper than it appeared from the ground and that to ascend further would be like watching a cat ‘free-climb’ a wall using only their claws.

I was fucked.

My sister, and my wife and children, were on the ground looking up at my ample backside as all of the macho bravado was pinched out of me, like air being pinched out of the throat of a balloon.

I wasn’t really fucked.

Not wanting to back out of the “commitment” I had made to my sister, and not wanting to look like a total fool in front of my family, I began my snail-like crawl to the smokestack and decimated the offending weeds.

With respect to Japan, being on the edge of vertiginous heights seems to be a way of life. And with good reason: Japanese men and women aren’t stupid. They know where the edge is and they know what awaits them on the other side should they step in the wrong direction. That’s why they tend to live longer than us: because they don’t engage in Macho derring-do.

I’ve been to Skytree twice since I’ve landed in Japan. The first time that I went was for a field trip that had me chaperone two of my kids.

The second time was with my wife. We went all of the way to the Tembo Deck.

The Tembo Deck is the topmost part of the tower that is open to visitors. Parts of the Tembo Deck are constructed in a parabolic fashion. Meaning, you step up to the railing and you see that the safety glass is curved, giving the walkway an almost tub-life feel to it. The affect is that you get not only an unparalleled view of most of downtown Tokyo, but also a bird’s eye view of God’s asshole.

When my wife and I exited the elevator, we walked up to the rail that wasn’t choked with tourists. As she took in the view, I let out a long sigh. “That’s enough of that shit,” I said, and proceeded to hug wall until I saw that it was safe.

And thus, I concluded: If we were meant to be that far from the ground, we’d come pre-loaded with wings.

The only way that I would have been able to get the whole tower in was if I was lying on my back. I tried (my wife wasn’t having it). 

Independence Day.

Feast your eyes on what a fireworks display looks like in Japan. Granted, this was on American Government property. It looks like any damn fireworks show.

Yes, I’m one of those troglodytes who can go to a fireworks show like the one that you see below, sit quietly and patiently, absorbing the ink black sky being punctuated by man made star bursts, and still remain positively dead inside.

Fireworks just don’t do it for me. If there was some overall point, like someone issuing a proposal for marriage using strategically placed roman candles, or if there was a skeet shooting competition where the rifles were replaced with bottle rockets, then my interest might be peaked.

So, why am I showing you this side of me? Why did I go to a fourth of July celebration at all this year? For the same reason a husband/father does anything: my wife told me to, and she told me that I had to take the kids.

While I was loathe to participate, this matrimonial decree was not worth eschewing.

So, I took the kids, fought through the sweaty masses and accomplished my betrothed’s polite request. Not for nothing, it was nice watching my kid’s face’s light up.

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Groovy Movies.

IMG_8178.jpgIf there is one thing that living in Japan has gifted me with, it is a renewed belief in the idea of reincarnation.

Trends, fashions, old ways of thinking, even people: everything old will become new again.

  • Trends? Music was at one point solely purchased on “records”.
  • Fashions? People used to work really hard in order to put the right kind of holes in their jeans? Now? They can get that shit at Target.
  • Old ways of thinking? People who look differently than you, act differently than you, live differently than you, are against the “Natural Order” of god’s will and should be punished. (FYI: I’m not down with that way of thinking. If you must know, as a rule, I believe that everyone is an asshole until they prove me wrong).

People? Yes, that one can seem a bit nebulous.

However, it is generally put “right” every time I look at my son, and am reminded of the fact that he is a smaller, better, but not as good looking version of myself.

I Like to Ride My Bicycle.

Regardless of the transient nature of my family, I didn’t actively get into photography until we came to Japan.

I’m not proud of this because there have been plenty of opportunities to photograph in Florida that I missed out on. If you get past the idiocy of some of the state’s inhabitants, there’s no prettier a place that Florida during winter time.

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With regard to the photo, on this particular day, it was colder than a well digger’s ass and I was exploring a different part of my neighborhood via bicycle. Prior to the photo, I had made a left turn down a random street in order to get off of the beaten path and away from the traffic.

This left turn put me within a cluster of homes, tripping on all of the unconventional architecture. I also learned in this cluster, that Japanese architects seemingly don’t plan neighborhoods so much as place houses. You’d be hard pressed to find 5 consecutive miles of straight road.

While I was in this cluster, I felt a pair of eyes on me. It was a woman, in her yard, looking at me, clearly amused by my presence.

In retrospect, I can’t blame her.

My bicycle was black, my helmet, which makes my enormous head, comically large, was also black. My outfit was completed with a thick, black hoody, and black nut hugger sweatpants. My shoes were also black.

I looked like I was trying out for a reboot of Beverly Hills Ninja.

I knew how silly I looked, so I smiled and waved because there was nothing else for me to do. For the record, she smiled and waved back as well.

 

You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

For those of you who appreciate a bit of esoteric traveler knowledge, Americans who consider themselves ‘local’ to anywhere will always bitch about the weather and they’ll all use the same joke like it’s native and new: if you don’t like the weather in (name of region here) wait five minutes.

For the record, I’ve heard that used Florida where the weather is essentially sunny for 90% of the year.

Presently, I am in Japan. With the season of “fall” came our first ‘cold season’ in Japan. And since my families previous state was Florida, my wife was adamant about getting  a space heater since our home falls a bit on the drafty side. Naturally, I was enlisted in this shopping excursion because I’m her husband. I also used to sell space heaters (true fact!).

So we went to our local department store and purchased a space heater that we were both happy with. Upon exiting, I noticed that the Halloween costumes were merchandised on the same floor.

Shortly after that realization, I spied with my beady eyes the display that they were using in order to announce that they were, in fact selling Halloween Costumes.

In case you ever wondered what the population of Japan thought of President Trump, now you know.

In the shadow of the steeple, I saw my people.

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The above picture was taken from Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world. The first time that I had found myself there was due to the fact that two of my children were enlisted in a Tokyo Culture class that was offered through our school system. 
And yes, I sign my kids, all of my kids, up for things to do during the summer that are generally educational in nature. Why? Because I see a lot of asshole kids who aren’t duly occupied and I have to exercise a lot of restraint to not run them over with my car.
I digress.

The picture above? That’s only a small fraction of the view Skytree offers. Makes you wonder what’s down there…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lady with 8 Kids.

My name is Matthew. I have no illusions that my place in the grand scheme of things is of little significance. What follows is something that I have been thinking about.

Maybe I made some of it up?


At various points of my life, I have occupied various forms of employment. The majority of this employment has required me to wear an ugly, ill-fitting shirt, put things on shelves, and to care for/be nice to people who don’t seem to understand that I am getting paid far too little to care about their petty and boorish needs.

I don’t take my employment for granted, mind you. Some days are just harder than others. And when you get to be a certain age, you have to wonder if your perpetually sore feet and always aching joints are worth the small paycheck and the hassle of having to show up on time.

To be clear, it’s not bad work to be associated with. Overall, it provides you with a sense of purpose.

During one of my shifts, I had observed a pack of gingers heading my direction. It was night time and I was in the toy department.

I was reasonably worried. You would be too if you saw a gentle sea of redheads threatening your flower-like exterior.

Riding this wave was a small woman carrying a baby. A quick glance and I had determined that the rest of her pack were actually her children. They all, even the baby, had the same shade of hair, and all of the children generally had the same facial features that the mother had.

Maybe they’re all shirttail relations. There are families like that. But I can’t shake the idea that this lady had birthed 8 children. And she was out in public with all of them, without the father.

The absence of the father is also a bit of a mystery. Is he as involved with the kids as the mother is? Does he buy her toys? With the amount of children between the two of them it’s fairly obvious that she stays at home for the kids while he’s working all sorts of hours so that they can keep the lights on.

To the mother’s credit, all of her children were fairly well behaved, even the baby. What I found the most remarkable was the fact that all of the children seemed to get along with each other. You’d think, with a household that size, that “turf warfare” in public would be a regular occurrence. How could it not be? Kid’s are genetically encoded to act like assholes at all of the wrong times.

Whilst I was finishing up my rounds, I stole some extra glances of the mother. She looked like a mom, put upon and often ignored. There was also something a bit different about her face.

It was hovering around her eyes. Trepidation, maybe? Her children were behaving remarkably. Maybe all 8 kid’s had earned a trip to the toy department? She was tired for sure. She is the matriarch of a village after all, and it was 8pm.

This woman is a career parent. She is going to die as a care-giver. There is nothing wrong with that but I can’t help but wonder if she ever wanted more than children out of life?

In the end, I guess that I have always known what the look on the mother’s face really was. It was resignation. Her life will not get any better than it was, that night when I saw her in the toy department.