May 12 2013
The S.O. actually got a part time job. So she can actually start paying some of her share of the load around here. ( Since she has seen fit to disdain to do her womanly duty with the requisite frequency).
Wonders will never cease.
May 12 2013
The S.O. actually got a part time job. So she can actually start paying some of her share of the load around here. ( Since she has seen fit to disdain to do her womanly duty with the requisite frequency).
Wonders will never cease.
Feb 17 2013
Jan 07 2013
I know I have been long overdue in posting some reviews of recent books I have read. Perhaps the one benefit of my recent trip across the pond is the books I got read ( and in one case) re-read. But I have been remiss in sharing them with you.
Well, no longer. Lets start with the one I most recently received:
I only received it recently and am only about half way through it. I like Kaplan's books even if his support for the Iraq war was totally misplaced. I think, from his tone in this book, he realizes how much the Bush administration fucked up its planning and execution of the war-and it also serves as a prime example of how a failure to understand how geography, and how it influences groupings of people-caused the US to experience nothing but pain and suffering in Iraq.
Kaplan also makes a great point that Americans live lives that are largely ignorant of the travails of the rest of the world. Protected by two oceans and unbombed and uninvaded, Americans have a sense of superiority over Europe that is unjustified. As he points out: "The militarism and pragmatism of continental Europe, to which Americans always felt superior, was the result of geography, not character." reminding us as John Adams did, "There is no special providence for Americans and their nature is the same as that of others."
I am just now to the section discussing the Indian Sub-continent where he is pointing out that for all their faults, the British were a unifying force in India-and their leaving created a vacuum that has never been fully replaced. ( Not that I believe either the Indians or Pakistanis are fully capable of doing so).
I am looking forward to finishing the book.
Next up is Thomas Rick's book The Generals. This is a comprehensive look at America's Army flag leadership from World War II to the present. Like Rick's other books its very readable-but at the same time its hard to agree with all of his conclusions. A few of my disagreements:
1) He is too much in love with the idea of firing people. He cites Marshall's propensity to fire people. This may have indeed been the case-but in Marshall's day people got second chances. Plus, as the history shows, sometimes firing someone only made matters worse. Firing only should be an option of last resort-not first. And times now are different than then.
2) He has clearly drunk the Petreaus Kool-Aid, more than a little too much of the stuff. ( The book was written before the great and powerful man was exposed as just a man-with unfulfilled needs like the rest of us.) In his examination of the Iraq war and Petreaus he glosses over the fact that Petreaus was a part of the problem before he became the solution. And that contrary to popular belief, "The Surge" of which he was proclaimed a saint because of-did not work.
3) While some of his other criticisms of generals are on the mark-in particular his sizing up of MacArthur, he is very, very, unfair in his criticisms of Norman Schwarzkopf. Basically he takes the side of the "we should have gone to Baghdad" crowd. I think this a case where "Stormin Norman" was smarter than Washington Post journalists. And Schwarzkopf was fortunate enough to have a President who understood what his real mission was.
It still a good read-so long as you understand up front, that Ricks has his own agenda, and its not necessarily right.
Don't drink the Kool-Aid!
I re-read Joseph Stiglitz book, The Price of Inequality. I think the guy is right on the mark.
To Mr Stiglitz, this inequality is the result of public policy being captured by an elite who have feathered their own nests at the expense of the rest. They have used their power to distort political debate, pushing through tax cuts to favor the rich and adjusting monetary policy to favor the banks. Many of the new rich are not entrepreneurs but “rent-seekers”, he says, who use monopoly power to boost profits.
I happen to agree with his view point 100%
Stiglitz is right to focus on the issue. Across the developed world, the average worker is suffering a squeeze in living standards while bankers and chief executives are still doing very nicely. This dichotomy is bound to have social and political consequences. Most reasonable people understand that-not so your average Fox News viewer in America. Who is too busy complaining about "wealth redistribution" to the "Lucky Duckies" than what is really happening. Namely that the wealth is heading upwards.
The final book I am in the process of finishing ( have been reading it off and on in starts when I am depressed, which lately has been a lot) is submitted without comment.
Nov 02 2011
Spent the day house hunting with the S.O. At this point-a root canal is starting to look more than a little attractive.
You know its bad when I feel like envying Tiger…………
Oct 22 2011
The day we get on the plane and I begin the journey to once again take my rightful place among the ranks of American Expats. I think we are ready-although the S.O. is just two steps above basket case level right about now.
The S.O. does not deal with change well. Unlike me-she likes order and routine, and the humdrum existence of house and hearth allows her to her cleaning, her daily laundry and the rest of her routines. The last few days of packers and movers ( who she regards as lazy compared to their Japanese counterparts-they really were not that bad, it could have been much, much worse) have unsettled her greatly. The sight of the empty house, coupled with the idea that those filthy Gaijin will be walking across her well kept floors in shoes, just perturbs her to no end. And this is for a house that she says ( repeatedly) she didn’t like that much ( she liked it more than she cares to admit).
We both have been having ongoing discussions about what put us overweight. She blames my books, I blame her dishes-the truth is both are to blame, which is why she will be splitting the expense with me-although she doesn’t know it yet. We are playing the cards we can to get the weight down ex post facto, but eventually we will get bitten in the ass. She realizes deep down she bought too much “stuff” over here and in Japan.
It sort of came to a head last night,when she threw a T-shirt at me. I realized it was not so much at me for the then topic of discussion-but at my inability to settle and stay where she could enjoy her routines. Like many women, she cares only so much for the happiness of her man. That is quite secondary, even tertiary, when it comes to interrupting her routine and her source of life support. Its not unique to her-its a finding I have seen across the species. It doesn’t matter so much if I am happy in the location or professionally-so long as she is taken care of. She will work through it of course-as soon as we settle on a house, and get unpacked and settled, and she can build new routines. Routines that will have her riding the S-bahn and learning German after a fashion. We apologized to each other this morning at breakfast. (She’s right-I should have been more ruthless with respect to my library, she recognized I am right about her plates and hibachi’s).
But for both of us, tomorrow will be the beginning of a new adventure and a voyage to an uncertain shore. We will keep you advised as it unfolds. Gambarimashou!
Sep 18 2011
May 23 2011
Three years ago. ( three years! That alone is appalling)-when I was contemplating my expulsion from paradise and the reality of having to take up residence in Gehenna on the Tennessee, a commenter here posted this tidbit of advice:
“If you come home and find her watching Oprah and eating twinkies-get her ass on the first plane back to Japan!.”
Wise man-because he recognized the lesson, that so many of the rest of us have discovered that once you take the woman out of Nihon-they start unlearning all the wonderful, Japanese, things that made them attractive to begin with. Protracted periods in the USA have the effect of corrupting their inner being.
So it was with that quote in mind that I cringed when this morning, as I was getting ready for work, that the S.O. asked me to make sure the DVR was set up-so she could make sure she didn’t miss Oprah’s last show.
Now besides the fact that she still cannot figure out how to use the DVR-despite being shown on numerous occasions-the fact that she has turned into a watcher of Oprah is more than a little disturbing. Fortunately, I searched the pantry for twinkies-but found none.
But I am calling the ANA or United ticket office right away.
Jan 14 2011
The S.O. summarized:
Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.- Oscar Wilde Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 – 1900)
Thus the dilemma of living with a woman-and reason 298 why marriage is outmoded.
Dec 21 2010
Today is the 9th year that I have known and been with the S.O.-although it certainly does not seem like it has been that long. Four years ago, I wrote the post that follows-and I still find it’s a good recounting of the joys and frustrations of living with her. Probably the big difference now is the extra added burden of living in a place I really have no affection for-and yearn daily to be away from- among people who have ideas that are as foreign to me now as the back side of the moon. Twas once their not so orderly vision of what made a great place to live made sense to me-but having been to the far corners of this globe and back, they do no longer. More aggravating, to me at least, is how easily she has adapted to the mind numbing boredom that is life here in Shopping Mall USA. Where once she was part of the excitement factor-she is potentially transitioning to being another anchor at my feet.
That said-each new year provides new hope, and in the grand scheme of things, she has made a pretty good roommate, if perhaps some of the passion has diminished with age. Certainly things could be a heck of a lot worse. So accordingly this rendition of the life we live together still rings plausibly true:
It is 5 days till Christmas! Accordingly I hereby declare a ban on politics and the war for at least till after that. Beer and babes, however, will always be available. After all what goes better with Christmas than that?
Also, I’ll be out of touch for about 3 days. The S.O. and I are going away for a couple of days and celebrating an anniversary of sorts. Hotel, nice dinner, walking in the city, wine, and…….especially and………… (at least I hope so-if not I’m going to demand an 84,000 yen refund from Saikaya!). I’m not taking my laptop, so it will be the equivalent of going cold Turkey for a computer addict like me.
The S.O. and I have been together for over 4 years. Like all relationships we have had our ups and downs-to tell the truth I never expected to be here now, with her, when all this started. I still wonder each day whether next year will still find us together or not. Not for mean reasons, but more because of ambivalence on both our parts. Allow me to explain a little bit…………
When I met the S.O. I had been in Japan for just over a year. A year later we were living in the same place-with all of the attendant fal de rol. The year before we met had been a watershed for me in my life. Coming from the US and the hell that is a sexless marriage, it was astonishing to see that all turn around in just a few short weeks. That year I probably got laid more than I did the entire time I was married to the shrew. I had come to Tokyo and immediately knew that Asia was the place for me! Spike noted this some time ago and I blogged about it saying that I fully understood the sensation:
“As much of an outsider as I was, there was something there, I felt like I belonged there. I was an alien and at home at the same time. “
It was awesome. I felt like I had gone to heaven. I’d been to Bangkok for a couple of manhood “reaffirmation” tours where I had literally gone nuts in Patpong and at the Eden Club. I’d traveled around Japan and the region to Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei. I had a Chinese girl on the string in Kyushu ( a doctor no less!), a couple up here in Tokyo and a Thai girl who worked as a make-up artist at the Navy exchange. ( She is the subject of a whole other post…..lets just say that memories of sex with her will be in my “old man ” memories!). The hard part was keeping them from finding out about each other. I was gearing up for a trip to Jakarta to see what they had to offer me down there.
So why, I’ve asked myself over and over again, would I go and complicate my life with a serious relationship with obligations (financial and otherwise) when things were just hunky-dory without one. I’ve yet to give myself a good answer. I had been down this path before and I knew it led no where good. Unlike many people, I have no problem with living by myself.
When I met the S.O. I had no other aspirations except to make her another notch on my bed post. She was beautiful to look at ( she still is!) and interesting to talk to. Then again, all women are when you first meet them. Its new, they smell nice, you are captivated by the way her skirt drapes over her thighs-or fascinated with the way her blouse comes to a point that shows her cleavage. It’s as you get to know them that the challenge of staying engaged kicks in.
Yet, there was something about her, something that was just more than a little different from the Shibuya Girls I had met and bed. For one thing she was my age (more or less…), she’d worked for all of her adult life, she had a good job and she had her own car, apartment and goals. She knew how to talk about many things, because she was just a very smart and witty lady. Unlike her American sisters though, she was not pushy about that fact. So suffice it to say I was curious. When she gave me her e-mail and phone number, I did what you should never do, and immediately e-mailed her when I got home and called her the very next day asking for a date.
And so it began. I was still traveling, but at the same time calling her and asking her out-a lot. She was in the process of moving to a new apartment. I rented a van and helped her move. The whole time I was thinking in terms of a clock ticking within my head. Soon I would have to move on-or she would-especially when she learned that if she wanted to take this to its ultimate extreme, there was no way I was ever going to have any children again. For sure that would tear it. If not that, then fact that I was chained down with economic slavery from my divorce would do the trick.
Except it didn’t. And to this day I am not sure why. I think deep down inside of her she want[ed]s a child. ( Skippy-san present day note–time and the advance of age have forever closed that option). If so, she needs to seek a new man-I’m not equipped physically or emotionally to do that. I’ve been very up front about that-its in my walk out the door criteria-but to date she seems to deal with it ok.
I’m always afraid that means that she is just settling for me- out of fear of growing old alone. I talked to her about that more than a couple of times. I am who I am -and with my life experience I’m not going to change. I’m a party boy and proud of it. I’ll be one as long as I live.
She said she was a party girl. She may have been, but she is most definitely not one now. I always tease her that she is guilty of false advertising. We are so very different in so many ways. We are alike in one way though-we are both selfish.
Which is perhaps why we seem to be comfortable together. I know I am comfortable -to date. We’ll see what the out years hold; I’m not going to plan that far ahead. After having jumped off the cliff once, walking away holds none of the terrifying fear it used to.
But not yet. Truth be told, I just could not bring myself to do that. To her-or to myself. I must be an idiot or a useless romantic. Does not mean that may be out there in the future one day-but for today its not. I still believe that I am the only one responsible for my happiness. The idea that out there somewhere, is one special woman who will do that for you is sheer nonsense. Living with her has not changed my thinking on that subject. I might think differently if I did not like women and sex so much. ( as in I like it a LOT!).
If she senses my qualified regard for her, it is counterbalanced by what I know is her qualified regard for me. The stuff of sonnets, our relationship is not. We do say, “I love you” to each other. It seems the right thing and more romantic than the more accurate statement of our relationship with each other: “You’ll do.”
Still, my worst day with the S.O. has been far better than my best day with the ex, so that must be progress of a sort. Plus, she has brought a lot of structure to a very disorganized life. She has got me focused on some goals besides a girl’s ankles up in the air, and gotten me focused on saving money. She’s actually taught me a lot on that score. We do, however, maintain complete and separate finances though. I will never ever, ever, share money with a woman again!
So pop the champagne! I’ve got the silly cards, and I know I’m going to get dragged into the shop to buy her the jewelry of her choice tomorrow. What the future holds-hell, I have no idea-but for today and the next few days we will savor the present. Come to think of it that’s just about all anybody can do.
And if it does not work out? She can keep the furniture so long as I can keep my computer and the car! See what a nice guy I am?
“Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same.” – Unknown”We all want to fall in love. Why? Because that experience makes us feel completely alive. Where every sense is heightened, every emotion is magnified, our everyday reality is shattered and we are flying into the heavens. It may only last a moment, and hour, an afternoon. But that doesn’t diminish its value. Because we are left with memories that we treasure for the rest of our lives.”
Oct 28 2010
Richard asked me a while back-what the S.O. thought about life in America. I promised a response.
To appreciate the way her little mind thinks-it is important to understand a couple of key background facts. Otherwise the ideas won’t make a lot of sense; or they will seem more hateful than they really are. I’ve been with her long enough, I understand most of it-the rest I just ignore. Its a great arrangement.
Item #1: The S.O.-because she is Japanese is part of a unique group. Key on that word unique and then add the word superior. She believes that the Japanese are the most unique species on the planet. And that their culture is superior to anyone else’s. That sounds racist on the surface-and probably is. But don’t tell her that, she will never believe it. To her its a statement of fact-kind of like saying ” I know the sun will come up tomorrow”. A statement of the laws of the physical universe. So that tends to color her view of anyone who is not Japanese ( including me). To her, it is just the order of the universe. Let me add that she is a kind soul and will do anything for just about anyone-once she overcomes her inherent selfishness.
Item #2: Cleanliness is not just next to Godliness to the S.O. It IS Godliness. She is obssessed with cleaning. Anthing and everything-and people who don’t set that standard ( as most Americans don’t) are not quite up there in the acceptability rankings. Another reason to marvel that she likes me. But it goes a long way to explaining a lot about her.
So what does she think about the USA?
Regarding item 2-she thinks our standards for levels of cleanliness in public places are appalling. When she sees litter on the side of the road it disgusts her. She also does not understand why we don’t have brigades of cleaning ladies out at shopping malls.
Like all Japanese, she marvels at the sheer size of the country. When we first got back here-it was always something of a chore to explain to her the realities of the geography here. E.G. a drive from state to state was not a short journey, except in Rhode Island and Deleware.
That said-she does not understand why we don’t have decent trains here. On that we are in total agreement. We miss the train system in Japan.
She thinks Americans are by and large, incredibly fat. And she does not understand in the least why we put up with it. Bear in mind, her definition of fat-includes a lot of people who are only slightly overweight. But when it comes to other women-she allows no grace pounds. No hour glass figure-you are a porkette. Since I view the world through beer goggles, I am just a bit more forgiving over here. ( Fat women need loving too!).
She thinks American cuisine is “greasy” for the most part-and she truly can’t get why we love fried food so much. She also can’t understand why our portions are so large or why we eat so much.
She despises the way we tip in this country. She has no qualms about using and abusing the serving class here-and thinks the overall level of service in restaurants, hotels, and on airlines is atrocious. Coming from a country where they don’t tip and waitresses are supposed to be happy and apologetic when they hear the word “Sumimasen”-it is not surprising. But the tipping thing really drives her nuts. Since I am a tip your barmaid well kind of guy, she gets frustrated. I’ve learned to just ignore it. When she actually gets a J-O-B, and starts buying dinners-then she can tip how she wants to. She and I have something in common in that we both can’t stand the way passengers are treated on airlines in this country. She also does not understand why we put up with lines-specifically why they don’t have more people working ( as at TSA lines) to make them shorter.
She believes the fact that America is a car society has made Americans lazy. To that end, I think she has a point. I lost weight when I was in Romania walking about a mile from the subway to work each day.
She loves the fact that American houses normally have yards. ( I hate it-because I hate yardwork). The idea of growing things at your house fascinates her. I think she has planted every available square inch of available space. Of course she never lived in a house before we got here-so its a novelty to her. I’ve been there done that. If I want to see grass-I can go to a golf course.
Regarding politics-she is amazed that I get so passionate about the subject. To her-based on her Japanese frame of reference- she thinks most Americans are too serious about the subject. Since in Japan, the bureaucracy runs the government regardless of who is in power-it kind of astounds her that we Americans fight about it so much.
She absolutely does not get the Tea Party. ( Another thing we have in common). But its for different reasons. I don’t get them because I know they are wrong. She does not get them because she does not understand why anyone would bother to care. She was surprised when I told her how many people don’t vote here though. Coming from Japan-she thinks of it as a duty, something you have to do regardless of your personal desire.
She loves the fact that we have a throwaway society. That means lots of stuff ends up in second hand stores and garage sales. It bothers her not a whit to buy things at Goodwill and then try to pass it off as brand name if she can.
American sports drive her nuts. She has very little use for American football. ( Too many rules). Yakyu (Baseball) takes too long. She likes to watch tennis and golf though. She will watch a golf tournament on TV where I usually will not.
American reality shows both fascinate and repel her. She has become addicted to “America’s got talent”, Project Runway, Antique Road Show, and Dancing with the Stars. She also loves the travel and gardening shows on public TV. She is, on the whole oblivious to the news. She hates shows with violence. She won’t watch Sci fi or war movies.
She is very deficient in her knowledge of 20th century history. The period of World War II is a blank to her-I’ve had to explain a lot of things that are common knowledge even among the dumbest of Americans. She really does not understand why we venerate the Civil War. As far as she is concerned we should just forget it ever happened. She HATES visiting Civil War battlefields. (Something I like).
Which also brings up an important point. White people and African Americans are all the same to her. Other Asians? Not so much. To her there is a hierarchy of how she looks down on them. She can’t stand (in order) Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Indians and Filipinos. She hates Mexicans-but only because they do construction and therefore she faults them for the noise they make building houses in the neighborhood. Again-its different than actual overt racism. She will talk to any of them-politely and help anyone. But don’t kid yourself, she knows in her heart who is the “chosen race”.
That is actually a misnomer. As it typed that-I realized that she does not view her own people as the Israelis do. That they have a special place with the Almighty because of their suffering. That does not capture it. The Japanese don’t have a special advocate because of Kamisama-He just built them to be superior from the start.
And she doesn’t understand me very much-she can’t understand why I like parties and wild times-she thinks I need to mellow out and enjoy domesticity. When I tell her I hate that lifestyle -she just shakes her head.
Its a wonder we get along at all-but we do. Perhaps our mutual selfishness works.