Friday, September 3

Shot from the bottom of a well



I think the Japanese video game dating thing is quite interesting, or sweet, even if a little obsessive. People always have relationships with inanimate objects or documents (and a computer program on a game boy cartridge is a document, to be sure). If you're looking at it all from space, I don't think it makes a lick of difference whether a person is going on vacation with a real girlfriend or a fake one. Would it be any weirder if you loved the work of Charles Dickens, or the Beatles, and went on vacations with their albums or books, doing the things that they do in those texts, reading them or listening to the music along the way? I suppose you could say someone who does that is equally whacked. But I feel sympathetic, I guess. Do you?

Maybe the reason that this seems weird is that Love Plus+ isn't part of any sort of canon. Or maybe it goes deeper than that. Maybe because the game is more interactive, it is closer to simulating some kind of totally demented and simplified aspects of human interaction, and so it seems that these people are perverted or deluded monsters of some kind.

Oh, and...

Thursday, August 5

Moving pictures!

Meaahh, we'll photoshop it in later.

So, this post is a tri-pronged attack on your sense of time-management. 66% of it has to do with the China trip! Here we go.

1. So there there's this guy, Jordan, who's travelling to various South East Asian countries to make video games about cultural and political issues. It's sort of a travel writing concept, but with games. I KNOW, AMAZING, right? Anyway, so I emailed him, and asked him if he'd drop by Taiwan for a spin, and so that I could play the Robin to his game-designing Batman. And holy frijoles, it worked! He wants to come. So I'm going to give some monay to this dude so that he can complete his project, and so that he can come to Taiwan. I would humbly request that you do, too! Check out his website. It's! I shouldn't have to tell you how exciting this is to me. I was probably born for this.

2. Notes on china!

a. Chinese people have trouble waiting in lines.
b. Beijing (Peking) duck is delicioso.
c. Train travel is disorganized.
d. Things the government touches turn to gold. Everything else is kind of bleh.
e. Air pollution is REALLY bad for you.
f. Yogurt in Beijing is friggin' euphoric.
g. Bargaining is easier if you pretend you're married to the person you're shopping with, and pretend to threaten a divorce if they buy something at that price. Prices drop like flies.
h. The Silk Road is not like the Appalachian Trail. You cannot backpack it. Because it is an idea.
i. The square milage Beijing airport is a significant percentage of the size of Rhode Island. I'm not kidding, here.
j. Kung Fu monk children don't want lollipops.
k. Chinese food is greasy in China. But you can ask for less grease. And no MSG.
g. People in China do NOT know where things are. Don't ask. I think it's because things are changing so quickly, that no one knows the street names anymore.
h. Smoking on trains is not allowed. But people do it anyway. I don't want to guess about airplanes.
i. Big Brother is watching YOU. You must report your address and comments to the government at every hostel you stay in.
k. Buddha safety in Buddha numbers.
l. The government bans things that become more popular than The Party. Like pop music. And brands. So don't get popular.
m. If you don't have a professional degree, apparently, you are encouraged to immigrate out.
n. Most people in China who want to use the internet for reals (and not get all the good sites blocked by the Great Firewall of China) use VPNs. In this way, it is not impossible to use the internet per usual.
o. Taiwan can outlast Mainland China. It's a matter of whether China makes a rash and violent decision to attack.
p. People, it seems to me, don't particularly care whether Taiwan is part of China or not. But they are told how to answer that question in school, so mostly you'll get the same answers from people about it, I think.
q. Get a RECENT guide, if you go there. Things change very quickly.
r. Everyone in China smokes, on average, 75 packs of cigarettes per year. More than everywhere else combined. That average includes babies!

3. While in China, the most oft-repeated phrase was "Meh, we'll photoshop that one later." So much so that we began taking photos specifically with the intention of photoshopping them. So here is my humble series, entitled, "China: Hadokened". Also, a picture of a terra-cotta warrior holding a wiimote. We thought that was necessary.

Wednesday, August 4

China photos!

A LOT OF THEM. So take your time. Notes on China and the trip soon. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 7

The first five minutes: Looming.

(As part of a game design exercise, I will be reviewing the first five minutes of a random game from the internet every day)


This game seems to have the atmosphere and story thing down--the sounds are not very complicated, but I immediately understood what kind of setting the game took place in from the grayscale and windy noises, and from the text I read. It seems like the searching aspect of the game could become quite tiresome--finding objects on a grid is not my idea of an involving gameplay experience, even for a flash game. I think it's probably bothering me that this game's core play gameplay mechanic is not very complicated--it just seems kind of erudite and mysteriously intellectual, but without any real seeming gameplay elements.

The game also seems to have a technical issue, as it is impossible to click on the screen without going to another website, but you must click on the screen to unpause it. Approve of retro graphics, disapprove of player involvement.

Friday, May 14

To be fair, this is from the PRoC, not from the ROC.

Been reading up on Chinese history. Crazy stuff, man. The Japanese, they're always getting all up in the KMT's biznass. Same with the Russians. Bleh.

Things are going pretty well, over here, working on plans for the future. Baking pies with the students I tutor. Pictures soon!

May I direct your attention to this fabulous set of mis-translations?

Or this one?

Tuesday, April 27

Publicity hat trick!

I'll be on the radio again this Sunday (93.4 FM, at 7PM approximately), talking about rock climbing with Tina! I guess that means I'll have to keep rock climbing after I completely heal from surgery. Le sigh :)...the MP3 for that show will be available probably on Monday.

Also, this week, I found out I was on television, as seen in this youtube video!

AND, I was on radio for 20 minutes last Sunday, reading my story, a poem, and plugging Write Club. The MP3 for that show will be available Sunday. Cheers!

Sunday, April 25

This one goes to eleven.

I'm going to be reading a short story of mine, called "Your Own Mistakes," on Taiwanese radio! I'm going to be on the air at 7 PM or so. It's on my friend Colin's radio show tonight. I don't really remember the call sign, but I'll get a recording of myself up here, so you can hear it for yourselves! Garrison Keelor, eat your heart out.

Sunday, April 11

That's what SHE said.

Two major items on today's agenda.

1. Lots of pictures and descriptions of said pictures.
2. I finished Moby Dick, and I have many things to say about it. But probably the most pressing intellectual issue is WHY THE WHALE KICKS THE PEQUOD'S ASS SO HARD. I was routing for Ahab. Apparently, I was the only one, even amongst groups of people who have not read the book. For instance, I told Tina about my surprise, and she texted me a message to the effect of, "You were routing for the Pequod? Who told you to do that?" Anyway, shock and awe. Shock and awe.

Here's a slideshow of a few items: the triathalon, a trip to Liuchiu Island, and some other stuff. Enjoy!

Some brief notes about triathlons.

1. Sometimes no one tells you about the mountain you have to go up in the running section.
2. Sometimes no one tells you about the mountain you have to go up in the biking section.
3. Triathlons are tiring.
4. It is better, more fun, if your friends go, too.
5. There are a contingent of people who care only about winning. Even when you cross the finish line, the first thing these people may ask you is, "SO WHAT PLACE DID YOU GET," even though it's impossible to know (and silly to ask), because the race starts in waves. These probably people appear to suck, and for good reason; it is because they do.
6. I finished in 1:37:00, although it's impossible to be sure. That's what Tina tells me, but she also says it's not accurate because she started it late. I was very happy with the time, but I wish I had had more water during the race. I ended up walking at one point during the biking (up a stupid steep hill, my front wheel was coming off the ground), and at one point when I had a killer cramp while running. Again, no water. They only had one water station for the entire race. Half way through the running section. That bad design.
7. Races where they don't tell you how far you've gone are not a good thing. That way you run and you run and you run, but you don't know when to use all your energy and sprint for the finish. It's silly.
8. Stay in the outside of the swimming herd. That way you won't get kicked so much. I didn't get kicked at all, really, but I can see how that would suck a lot.

Friday, April 9

Remember when we were young?

This. Which is not to be outdone by this. Neither of which could ever be equal to that.

Wednesday, March 31

Sewiouswy, yew guys.

It's kind of cruel that they're actually coming out with this, and that it looks amazingtowne, but we'll have to wait 3 whole months to see it.

Also, Happy Passover! N'stuff.

Thursday, March 25


Czech it out. New blog, new event, new facebook group, new Wednesday nights. Be there or be square.

I'm holding it at The Warehouse.

Wednesday, March 24

Momma always says...

"The rocks in his head fit the holes in hers."

I always thought that was an endearing and complimentary thing to say about a couple until I really thought about're mean, mom. Not that you've ever said that about ME. No, the rocks in my head are special :).

So, on the agenda today are 3 items. Here goes:

1. Photos! It occurs to me that while I go rock climbing a lot, and it is a pretty photogenic sport, I haven't really given you guys any idea of what goes on. I'll try to do that better in the future.
2. Announcement: I am going to start a creative writing circle on Wednesdays at 9:30, at a place called The Warehouse! It's here in Kaohsiung. More details as that evolves. I'll probably post the flyer I'll make for the thing here.

3. Poem: What do you think? Want feedback.


We did not ask for much, in the beginning;
perhaps a chance to stand in the wind
on a mountain, next to a man
who might have been Jesus.

The greeks asked for heavy capes and olives
they received them, and lay on the ground
looking at the rocks and trees nearby;
babies drank wine or breastmilk,
Oh, and sometimes, they wanted just
for their smooth bodies to be lovingly sculpted
without color--so maybe we could see
how sexy they were when they were young.

Really, all the Romans ever wanted
were some brightly colored tunics.
When the technology was developed,
they showed, and brought along some swords for fun
which they lovingly shoved into people's bodies
often in a synchronized pattern, just as the painting
was being made,
so you could see everything;
the glorious armies,
the bloodthirsty or beautiful legends
rising from seas of salt water
or gore.

And then the Spanish marched right on in.
They declared that this was fucked, they wanted ugly people,
and long curly hair, and halberds
for murdering the natives.
They wanted creepy children in large ornate houses,
as well.
The Americans, British, and French
wanted all this too, so that was the thing
for a while,
although it should be mentioned casually
that some of these cultures were a lot like the Greeks--
they wanted haystacks in wagons,
and they wanted to be peasants laying on the ground
in the grass, next to a newly invented bicycle
and perhaps some wine and/or breastmilk,

Until they all died or killed each other,
which is the same old story.
Then, boy, it was time to get rid of people altogether.
We began destroying people, or making them face the wrong way,
so that we could see their backs,
or the way they existed at multiple moments in chronology.
It all became rather complicated, you see.
Because we wanted people to see what we thought,
and even though that was what we were thinking,
we wanted to actually still be doing all the things we had already done;
wearing colorful tunics, drinking wine, standing next to Jesus and murdering him with a sword.
This accomplished, we began to do it more and more frequently
we began to demand it more frequently
and it wasn't enough that perhaps one hundred pictures in the world were pornographic
they needed to be nearly infinite in number, accessible at any time,
and changable according to the color of tunic
we most preferred.
We began to chase these things more and more, they became superfluous, and
so did we, and we left our bodies at work
went home, and had a mixed drink;
it was whiskey and orange juice,
and we were miserable, God Damnit,
and we had every right to be, because this was the future,
and we were not happy.

Monday, March 22

The intersection of weirdness and desire.

So, conversations continue to go on inside my head, like...why hasn't Technion written back to me, yet? What will I do if I can't find a tech school in Israel? How will that, ultimately, solve the problem of being pretty bored at work as a teacher? Even better, how can I stop thinking about this and do something about it?

I'm looking at other options, and looking into living in a number of different places. But unless you have something very specific in mind, you end up with a ton of possible options (you end up looking at craigslist and fall asleep scrolling down the page), any one of which it's exhausting to pursue. I pursued Technion because it's the number one tech school in Israel, and they have an education/tech hybrid program that seems really good for me. But I dunno.

I might get my first credit card soon...took me 26 years! I reckon that I have avoided them until now because they seemed silly, and I feel like the game people play with credit and getting loans...and buying things with credit cards just to show they have good a petty game that is a waste of calories. But here I am, about to play into it. I guess, in the end, it gives you more power for a little bit of your time and attention. Most things do that...and you can continue to empower yourself to the point where all your resources come to bear on a very small portion of your day (because you're trying to gain power for the rest of the day by working or whatever). It can be frustrating. Right now I'm really feeling the squeeze of a lot of resources, and not that much time. And when I get an exorbitant amount of time, I don't ever know what to do with it.

Hey! I'm working on a new poetry series...written from letters my grandfather received and saved before he passed away. Here's one to check out:

July 13, 1944

There were times when
hard labor was everything.
If you were studying chemistry,
you had to work hard
like your parents
at the store. You rang up the molecules
you gave back change,
the correct change, God Damnit,
and you wrote letters home about it
long letters that took a long time
to write, and which sometimes didn't get there.
And people wrote you back,
asking how is your Aunt, we know you've been writing her
and we can save postage by just asking you!

Chinese Character of the Friggin' Day:

(Dan(4th tone) Gao(1st tone))

Actually, it doesn't literally mean what I think it literally means. Literally, I see Dan (egg) and gao (tall) and that's exactly what this thing is--it's tall egg, in a matter of speaking. But that's not exactly what those words mean. I'll give you one hint...It's also the name of a band that likes long jackets. You guessed it! CAKE. Woo!

Friday, March 12

It's like the entire country speaks Chinese except for me.

Some notes on learning Chinese. What seems to work and not work.

Reading: Right now I can read perhaps 40 characters, all told. I'm much better (comparatively) at reading BoPoMoFo, which is the phonetic system that is used in Taiwan (and nowhere else, I think) to help children pronounce things. I find it really helpful for pronunciation. I can read some basic stuff, if I can sound it out...

Writing: At the moment, I'm really only writing in BoPoMoFo. And I'm not that great at that, either. But I think that writing in that system helps you learn the rules that will help you correctly memorize how to write some of the monstrously complicated characters...generally, you draw lines from left to right, top to bottom, but there are (always) exceptions and different rules. But again, I can sound out basic stuff and write it down.

Speaking: BoPoMoFo is extremely helpful. It's great! But TONES! I thought I was learning them well, and then I realized I didn't know anything about how to speak them. If I attempt to speak without thinking about it very hard, I just don't use tones correctly, and what I'm saying becomes gibberish. That and I didn't really know the tones for the words I was speaking, which caused a lot of confusion on other peoples' parts. I am probably the best at speaking out of all these things. I know enough words to get around. I would estimate that I know perhaps 250 words.

Understanding: I suck at understanding Chinese. If someone isn't speaking slowly, I all but give up. For this, as well as the other items, I am going to have to get involved with a class. I think I do slightly eb

Getting motivated: I sometimes lose the ability to soak in any more vocabulary. It comes back eventually, but really, it's just sort of a steady pace. I think that if I was in a more English unfriendly environment, I would learn everything faster, but I think I would also be more motivated. It's actually easier to be motivated to learn if I am learning by speaking in Chinese, I find. Tina is especially good at helping me get back into the swing of things...either she's an excellent teacher, or I'm way better at learning Chinese whenever I'm talking to her. I think the former is far more likely :).

Grammar: My grammar is imitative, at best. I know some phrases, and I try to base what I want to say on the phrases I already know. This is the thing I often turn to learning when I feel frustrated by vocabulary. It's not quite as hard, if I already know the words, but so far I'm not so good at integrating it.

Dictionaries and other materials: Kids' books are the best. I learn a lot from looking at things which are the equivalent of the Cat in the Hat in Chinese. I would kill for a copy of One Fish Two Fish in Chinese. I also have these great flash cards with BoPoMoFo on them.

Today I learned the word for science! It's ke shwei (First tone, second tone). Literally, it means "Able to learn."

Wednesday, March 10

Cetalogical circumspection.

Reading Moby Dick. It's infinitely deep and unreadable. Still, I continue, if only because I sympathize with the main character for being on a three year sea voyage, while I am trying to read a 400 page book written by Hermann Melville.

Also, as I have been explaining to everyone possible, I really didn't understand why people hated going to the dentist until yesterday. Now I do. I had two cavities filled. Two more thursday. SUCK.
People drilling your teeth after work is NOT my idea of a GOOD TIME. But it's dirt cheap.

Also, getting surgery in April. Small surgery, but surgery nonetheless. Contact for details. It's because of the way my last surgery stitches healed.

Wednesday, February 24

Chinese Etymology!


东西 -- Dongxi (Dong - Shee) -- Literally, it means "East West". The story goes that at one time, there were markets on the East and West sides of town. They sold different things. So, if you didn't know what you wanted, but you wanted something from the market, you were said to want SOMETHING from either the east or the west markets. So, it means something.

Also in language learning news, I learned how to say "in bed" in Chinese. You know that joke we always use when opening fortune cookies? Well, I don't think anyone's heard of that here. So I will just randomly interject "in bed" at the end of a statement I don't understand that a friend say, and it invariably gets a laugh. Yes, I've killed jokes before, and I'd do it again if they gave me the chance.


Saturday, February 20


So! Now a more textual update, as I'm officially, consciously back from Indonesia. The general synopsis of this post is the following:

1. I have a motorcycle!
2. Indonesia was eye-opening.
3. Careers are confusing.

Now, in greater length.

1. I have a motorcycle! I took this picture of it yesterday, in the parking garage that's under my apartment. So that means it's a little dark, but you can still see how manly I am now, without my even being in the picture! More photos to follow soon, hopefully with me riding the motorcycle...but don't know when. And, before you ask, yes, the shocks in the front are indeed new! I just replaced them. That was the only thing that really needed changing upon my purchasing the bike. Oh yes, and the engine is 150ccs.

2. So, a disclaimer: I want to present a very balanced view of Indonesia, while at the same time impressing upon everyone that I had a good trip, and that Tina is an awesome travelling partner. Indonesia is a good place to visit as a tourist, if you like that kind of thing--the parts that I visited were well-geared towards making people from other countries feel like they were in another country without giving them the "fish out of water" feeling that so many of us crave when we travel. I was extremely physically comfortable while there, which is what I wanted from a vacation.

All that said, I confess that I didn't go very far off the beaten path. We went to Lombok at the end of the vacation, and that was super interesting to think about and experience on a commercial level. In most places in Indonesia, there are two distinct groups, which seem to be trying to avoid each other--the natives from Indonesia, and the tourists from the Western world (whatever that actually is). This made me feel uncomfortable, because inevitably I was seeing a lot of desire for comfort, culture, and the natural beauty of Indonesia (which is substantial), but to get it, you had to negotiate with a culture which lives in a totally different way and seems to be principally interested in your wallet.

So, in the end, I think the biggest problem I had there was that I felt guilty about being there--as a tourist, pumping money into their economy to see the sights, encouraging Balinese culture to sell out, in a way (I felt). I've never been on a vacation like that. And the constant concern about how much money I was spending for something while I was there was always stressing me out--the question was always, "Am I being ripped off right now?"

To be absolutely clear, Awan and his friends in Lombok were an oasis of good feelings about Indonesia, and I'd really like to hang out more with him (or in that kind of situation) should I go back. Hanging with Awan was really relaxing and fun. Anyway, first trip in Asia!

3. Careers are mightily wily things. I am now trying to figure out what, exactly, one does with one's life when one is tired of only teaching English and wants to either teach or learn about something else well enough to do it as a profession. The most recent development has been research into Technion's Technology Education department, where I'm investigating the possibility of a Masters. Here's the website for the department, should you be interested in doing any Simon-research!

Oh, and I'm also looking at Haifa Institute of Techology's tech dept. But no email back from them, yet!

Friday, February 19

Don't Smooking Please.

More specific discussion of Bali and environs later! There are captions on this one. Now must go eat breakfast.

Thursday, February 4

Wo yao nega.

1. Knowing that my cat does not speak English, I accidentally tried to speak Chinese to her today, to tell her to stop licking my arm :). Which is my usual method for trying to communicate with things that do not speak English, these days. Give me enough time,
and I'll be attempting to talk to the appliances on a regular basis. Telling the refrigerator to go fill itself up, wot?

2. I drove a motorcycle today! It wasn't smooth, but it's my second time driving around on one, and I was shifting gears all right. Got to work on my starts and turns. But I think by next week, I'll buy the bike I was trying today! It's a cruiser. Green. 150 cc's, a sissy bar, and no saddlebags. YET. Do you smell a road trip with Tina down to Kenting? Cause I sure do. When I get confident, I mean. Give me a few days. Pictures are coming...

3. Ran a half marathon! Feel good about the time. 1 hour, 53 minutes. My legs hurt a lot afterwards, though, cause I didn't train very much at all. Still, better than last year, I think!

4. Next stop, Triathalon. Next stop, Bali. Next stop, rock climbing in Bali. Next stop, making a potato gun.

5. Poem:

1944 JUNE 26

A letter came out of Army Service Forces HQ, on Governors' Island, asking Al Postrel to report to Bonaventure College.
It was delivered.
He opened the letter. Terror.

The return address was stamped,
How do you return (from) that?

Eyes slowly mouthed the words.
Several large, uncomfortable titles, capital letters
seemed too large. Certain words stuck

SUBJECT: Orders to St. Bonaventure College
TO: All Englisted Reservists Concerned

1. ...ORDERS for the Army Specialized Training Reserve Program...
2. Purchase your own later than 1900 HOURS...7 JULY 1944...reimbursed at a later date.
3. are directed to REPORT TO THE Train Commander.
4. ...It is to be understood that you are being ORDERED TO COLLEGE.
5. WAR department scholarship...PROVIDE YOURSELF with civilian clothing.
6. ...present this letter as AUTHORITY for reporting.

The letter was awkwardly shaped
in his brain. WAR.
How do you return (from) that?

He had twelve days.

Thursday, January 14

Puzzle wring.

So, the story goes that I woke up on Friday, a normal boy in Kaohsiung. I found out that my paternal grandfather, Albert Morton Postrel, was on the verge of passing away in Boca Raton, FL. After having a rather intense morning at work in which I had my last conversation with the man via Skype, I booked a flight back to the United States. Less than 48 hours later I had made lasagna, hosted a promised, T-shirt stenciling party, and found my way to my grandmother's home, where the rest of my family was also gathering. I have now returned to my native Rhode Island, to wreak havoc via blitzkrieg social visits to old friends, and will probably make a visit to New York to do the same there...I'm going to leave from JFK anyway, so why not? I'm once again completing ye olde grande to keep the international Simon networking network healthy.

In the hopes of meditating on my grandfather's passing in the ways that I do, I have acquired a most amazing set of things: about 150 hand written letters written to my grandfather from other people while he was in the army, between 1944 and 1946. They're amazing to read, and I'm going to do something like a collage with them. You'll see when it's done, I promise.

It's strange--I think that hidden in our families are all the stories we love to read or hear about--you just have to look in the right place. There are all these amazing pictures of my grandparents and their friends partying, and doing lude things, and being beautiful, and I find it completely confusing. I learned that my great grandfather worked on science fiction films, and was one of the original distributors of the home video camera for Sony, and had visited Taiwan many times. In addition, he wrote poems and short stories, like my grandmother's brother, and my Aunt. My grandmother paints. I am interested in all of these things to some extent, but most people I know do not do them. Who are the people that I am descended from, and why are we all strangely similar in one way or another? Clearly, family is more complicated than I realize. I think the most painful thing about spending the time with my grandmother, aside from the fact that she was sad, was the fact that I felt as though there was an entire history that had been lost. Looking through the photo albums, I knew that I never could have asked my grandfather enough questions to satisfy my curiosity about who he was and where he was from. This was depressing at the same time as it was a relief. I am always struck with the strange feeling that I do not quite know my family, even the ones I am supposed to be closest to. I wonder if this doesn't have more to do with me than it has to do with them.

I may go to Bali soon! Details at the eleventh hour.

I have the following items to present to you today:

--A large set of phantasmagortastic photos which alert photographer Sophie Goldstein took while we were both hangin' in Taiwan, and going to Taroko gorge n stuff! This is just a few of MANY things you can see when you come and visit me. Yes, those signs with cute characters are posted all around my school. And yes, that is me doing a handstand with a motorcycle helmet on. And YES, for the final time, yes, that is me looking utterly presidential in my English Village stationary store clerk outfit.

--A fascinating article which alert reader Jonna Cohen has sent in. Clearly, there is hope for the world if people

--A link to a trailer for Kick-Ass, a movie I am wicked excited about, though in retrospect it probably will have been embarrassing to admit it. The comic it's based on was too ridiculous not to love, though it was a nightmare in terms of racial and ethnic stereotypes. Oh, the youth of today. I love you.

--Your Chinese character of the FRIGGIN' DAY:

Okay, I may need an etymology check for this one. But I'm going to try and present it in the correct way:

The lines on the left represent fire. The right looks like a bottle for holding liquid. HINT: The bottle contains the fire.

Get it?

ALCOHOL. Pronounced jiu (third tone, that's the dip in the middle).

--The poem I read at the memorial service for my grandfather...people said they liked it, and they wanted to read it again, so here it is (looking for feedback):


As we live,

we collect.

And our shelves, you know the ones,

the ones which we make a museum

of our selves,

those shelves

are stuffed with us.

Here is a series of figurines of fat elves,

a plate that is really more of an art piece,

a small, ornate box we don't keep anything in.

No, we just like

the way it looks.

Oh, and look at this

here is a small painting we liked,

yes, there is something about the way that man

is picking his nose in the background

that made us reach into our hearts

and pull out enough to buy it.

LOOK! Here are a series of tickets to shows we saw

and enjoy recalling

here is a local news clipping, framed, in which we are mentioned in passing

here is the picture of an uncle

in a nightmare of a sweater

waving from a famous place he visited.

Looks like it might have been

Minneapolis? No, it couldn't be, there are no pyramids there.

Anyway, here is a photo album, a clock that was a gift, a rifle from the war which now seems silly, an unfashionable pair of glasses, an urn, a book that is of no interest but has an alluring cover, more newspaper clipplings, and more photographs, yes, always more photographs.

Only now that we are looking at it, there is someone

in the photograph whose voice

we can't remember.

Which is a shame, because they spoke

like a box of music.

but never mind, here is an advertisement for a dance

from thirty years ago

that we never went to

because we never left the house together.

The date went so well we just sat on the couch

thinking happily that we might never get tired of kissing.

Though just now, we can't remember the color

of that person's hair, or skin, or eyes

or the nice things they said to us when we were getting sleepy.

They could really have been anyone, now.

We are the silk that sticks so much

together...but gravity is always getting stronger

and so much friction between the memories

of objects

and places

and feelings

and people

they all begin to feel alike.

They melt into each other,

until we only know what we already know.

Memories become generic, unsharp.

If we are lucky,

as we grow, and we always grow

all these things are destroyed in a beautiful storm.

we forget to take our medication and smash them.

the window is broken by someone's God in a wind

or a burglar with a brick, or we trip

and our elbow catches the edge of a long object, like a golf club,

knocking every


to the floor.

We get to start again.

When we remember someone

we look at their shelves.

we wonder who the people in their photographs are,

and why they collected so many little statues of fat elves, they're really even kind of creepy.

And then, maybe,

suddenly, we think we realize

we're next.

After all, this does happen

in a kind of sequential order.

But I warn you that this is

almost certainly not the point.

We may be gone already. We may come back.

We may look at the moon one night and become stuck in between,

neither alive nor bored to death. Think too much about death

and you end

wondering what's happening

to all the food in the refrigerator.

Is it time to buy more already?

If the humous is gone, why are there so many crackers?

Didn't we pay this electric bill last week?

Should I shave?

The answers are yes and no, yes and no, hello and goodbye,

a thousand whats and no why.

I met a foreigner. She said

that in order to meditate,

we need only remember enough to make us happy.

Don't dwell, she said, just get in, get happy

and get out.

That means no fat elves, no books with alluring covers, no favorite paintings.

So I think of the three things

my grandfather gave me last:

a haircut and a ride to the airport,

and the little something extra

he always gave us.

So, when I ask to be,

I am alone on the curb

at the airport.

Though I keep waving,

I see the silver sedan

pull away. I feel a new breeze

at the back of my neck,

and the smile of a warm

twenty-dollar bill

in my pocket.

Then, I am


Saturday, January 2

"We are totally late!"

Adults and younger adults!

Sorry it took me so long to get back on the blogging horse. I've been going through a bit of a hectic phase which shall be known as the "a whole heck of a lot going on" period...and it's not that I'm doing any less now, but I've finally accepted the fact that I've just got to make some time and write some things down about what's going on. So, I apologize for not writing, and please don't yell at me any more, it makes my ears hurt.



The characters mean "big", "mother", and "finger". Da mou ghe.

Guess what they mean together?

No, not that.

It's your thumb.

In any case, I am currently waiting for my good old friend Sophie Goldstein in the Taipei Train Station! She's teaching in Korea...also keeping a blog...mumble mumble competition mumble mumble. She's visiting Taiwan for a week, staying with me for most of it. And we're going to start by going to Taroko Gorge this weekend for two and a half days or so. Lots of hiking, a half bottle of Jack Daniels, some 3-D cat cards, the last 100 pages of a Haruki Murakami novel, and a whole lotta Johnny Cash. Should be awesome times. I'll be sure and show you some pictures when I get back!

Speaking of pictures, I've got some major ones to lay on you, including a few from some rock climbing expeditions. I don't know if I'll be able to do it on the battery left in this laptop while I'm sitting here in the station, but I'll try.

The issues to discuss at present:

1. I gave a speech to a lot of government officials on Thursday at my school, to celebrate the re-opening of the place for the new semester. The governor was supposed to be there, but he wasn't. Anyway, it looks like I'm the new English speaking MC at my school, as this is the second event I

2. Ping pong continues to intensify, as does my enjoyment of it. The principal has begun smack talking me during lunch, telling me that it is "IMPOSSIBLE!" for me to win, and that my Ping pong game is "LOW CLASS!" I don't know what he's trying to accomplish. I hope that he fears me.

3. I am building an object which can only be described as too much fun to build, even if it is illegal. It is powered by hairspray and is made of PVC pipe. It's gonna be a gift. Those of you who know what I'm talking about, know what I'm talking about!

4. Movies: Sherlock Holmes was cute but lacking, Avatar was ripe and beautiful but disturbing. I'd go for Avatar if you have the choice...or better yet, wait for The Road.

5. This weekend I went to Tainan, the country's old capital, to go on a bike ride with a teacher from my school. It was awesome.

6. I went to the thop of the mountain here in Kaohsiung, and it's gorgeous. Going up is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, and the top is like...well, it's like the top of a jungle-y mountain in Taiwan with a view of the ocean. Very pretty. Anybody who comes here, guess what? You're going up the mountain.

7. I'm running a half-marathon in Tainan on Jan 31, with my friend Mitsuru! Fun times.

8. I'm having a stenciling party this week!

9. Internet in my house will be active as of Tuesday. I'm getting a 10 MB line, which means that things are literally going to be arriving before I send them. It's going to mess up my social life, but damn, I love me some ludicrous speed internet. I think that's when I'm going to upload those pictures, after all....