Jeez, it’s been a long time. I’ve tried to write something here over the past few months, honest. But I just haven’t been able to. Maybe I’m afraid to start the site up again, maybe I’m afraid it’s officially the end. I’m gonna try and ignore those thoughts for now and just push on with this post.
I’m living in Japan now. Tokyo, to be more specific. Staying at a friend’s apartment that, as of the new year, will be my permanent place. That’s still a strange thought to me but it’s been starting to feel more real lately.
Last night that feeling was especially strong. I was having a beer while putting together a cat condo. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, cat condos are these wooden structures covered in fuzz for cats to climb and sleep on because cats like to go up high and they’ll shit all over your new Japanese apartment if they can’t.
Anyway, the instructions were all in Japanese. This was a first for me. But that wasn’t even the reason I messed up a couple times. Or the beer. The pictures going along with the instructions weren’t the best. For instance, the base of the thing is a rectangle but it appeared as a square in the instructions. So I had to backtrack at one point–unscrew some screws I had tightened with the confidence that I’d never have to un-tighten them. This kind of mundane task with its minor frustrations is one that made me realize: this is really happening. I’m really setting anchor in another country.
My favorite beer I’ve had in Japan. Most beer here is pretty similar but flavorful microbrews are becoming more popular.
From here I am predicting a snowball effect: it’s only going to feel more and more real. In December, I’m going back home to bring Sarah, our dumb cats, and whatever worldly possessions we can carry with us. Like a couple of pioneers, only without the hats. Maybe we will buy some of those hats. (Speaking of spooky hats, Sarah has something in the works you’ll definitely wanna check out if you’re into webcomics. I’ve been collaborating to some degree but it’s all her. I don’t want to give anything away, but yeah it’s gonna be dark and awesome.)
Get this: We actually have to walk the cats through the body scanners at the airport. My guess is that they want to be sure we haven’t inserted a condom filled with uncut Colombian cocaine in… one of their orifices.
Christ, the thought of having to drag my asshole cat through a crowd of disgruntled airline commuters… Well, it’s hilarious now but I know it’s going to be miserable when it happens.
I’m sounding negative, aren’t I? It’s almost like I didn’t hear myself say, “I’m living in Japan now.”
Let me tell you about living in Japan. The food… No, look at me. I’m serious here. This is serious. Right in the eyes. The food… is amazing. It’s actually shocking to me to eat somewhere and not love every morsel.
There is such an obsession with quality here when it comes to food. It’s as if the people who run the many restaurants I’ve been to know how great it is to eat a carefully prepared, fresh dish made by someone just for you. And they genuinely want to give that experience to you. Or rather, that is the ONLY experience. Shouldn’t it be?
The opposite of this, to me, is a place like The Cheesecake Factory. They are big in America, where everything is big because fuck you we invented cowboys.
To enter a Cheesecake Factory is like walking into–literally–a factory. It’s huge. Noisy as fuck–hope you didn’t want to hear anything because the only sound your ears will perceive is the steady roar of too many fucking people. Oh, but you can just make out the staff singing Happy Birthday to a child who’s eating himself into an early grave. His parents hate Obamacare.
The menu is a tome, because having more options is always better. The food is probably reheated from frozen by chefs you’ll never see in a kitchen you’ll never see. They’re just going through the motions to get paid because they work in a factory and that is what factory workers do. If they could be replaced with machines, you better believe they would be.
Factories are great because they are efficient, and efficiency means more money! More suckers entering the gaping maw of a Cheesecake Factory means more money right to the bottom line by the time they slide out its loose anus covered in a sticky film of Coke Zero.
So anyway. Japan’s approach to food is the exact opposite of The Cheesecake Factory. And I’m not saying places like the Cheesecake Factory don’t exist in Japan, I’m just saying the Cheesecake Factory is a great symbol for some unfortunate American values that permeate more than just the restaurant industry.
Here I eat relatively affordable food regularly. Often with fresh vegetables. Today I went to a restaurant that celebrates the green onion. Some places tell you what country their meat is from. You can often see the person cooking your food and they usually appear to be enjoying their work. And they’re good at it. And best of all, most places are small. They have to be because making food with any amount of care just can’t be done on a factory level.
Eating lunch with some Fantasy Life
I love food, and so does Japan, so, yeah, this all makes me extremely happy.
I also have a great job! I’m officially working at 8-4 on video game localization. I respect and admire the people I work with, a feeling totally foreign to me. It makes me want to better myself and do the best work I can.
I hear people talk about games and the industry and gossip and predictions all day. I meet people who’ve worked on games I love and I can get the inside scoop on how those games came to be. There is a lot of drama behind a completed game, let me tell you…
The opposite of this was the worst job I’d ever had. I worked at a call center taking insurance claims over the phone. That meant 8 hours a day of talking to hysterical people about water damage, car accidents, and dog bites. But the kicker was, I couldn’t really DO anything. I was wholly powerless. I just took the data and passed it on up the chain of command.
You’re probably a normal, well-adjusted person. But let me tell you… There are a lot of fucking crazy people out there and they all have 3 things: insurance, a phone, and too much time on their hands.
I very nearly went insane. I started taking boxing classes and doing prison exercises in the “mental health” room during my breaks and I think if my alter ego invited me to create a fight club I would have obliged.
I poured myself into this blog during that time. It was my reason to feel like I mattered or that I was doing something that mattered or to cling to something that mattered to me. Because the lack of purpose or identity I had day to day robbed me of all that.
And then I came painfully close to getting, what I thought at the time, was my dream job (also in the gaming industry) out in LA. I’m much wiser now and know that LA is a putrid cesspool of self-centered, materialist assholes and an ever growing population of homeless people. My heart goes out to both groups. I hope they can get the help they need.
But working at that call center. And then being turned down for that job. That was the single lowest point in my human existence. I actually got the denial email while on a call at work.
One night shortly after all this, while out drinking with friends, I got pretty drunk and decided to punch a stop sign with all my inebriated might. Eh, that stop sign was asking for it. Naturally my knuckles were all mangled for a while. I still remember picking at this one flap of skin while on a call at my desk. It was hurricane season and a big one had just hit Missouri. Dark times.
This is an actual photo of me everyday
But now I have, arguably, my dream job! I work on amazing games with amazing people and learn new skills all the fucking time! Don’t give up on your dreams, kids. God, that’s such non-advice isn’t it? Well, to anyone actually looking for advice… I’d say you just make things and do things. Don’t just sit there, consuming things like the gaping maw of the Cheesecake Factory. When in doubt, look to the Cheesecake Factory and do the opposite.
But yeah, moving, huh? There will be things I miss, for sure. My family, which is really just my mom. The rest of my family might as well move to LA, they’d fit right in (hah). My mom is amazing and probably the single strongest and most compassionate person I know. Oh, and trees. There aren’t many trees in the city–I sure do miss seeing lots of green. Shucks, I never was one for city life but I think I’ll make a go of it.
So anyway, this is me letting you know where I am in life. I don’t know where the blog will go from here. I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment, but I still love writing and video games so who knows.
Thanks readers–thanks blog–for giving me a purpose in my darkest times, and helping me get to where I am. I love you all.