Jason Porath

has a website, i guess

Month: April 2007

Bang bang you’re dead

Dear world:

So, the Virginia Tech shootings. They’re bad. We know.

However, this does not give you license to complain about society’s this-or-that. You may not pretend that the cause of the shootings can be traced to some perceived iniquity for which you’ve been saving up your soapboxes.

Society, especially American society, is like a giant hundred-headed cat.

  • First off, it’s not a monolithic, single-minded entity, so claiming it does anything on purpose is, shall we say, a bit much.
  • Second, most of us can only see two or three of its heads from where we stand, so it’s not like we have some insider scoop to share with the world.
  • Third, it’s a fairytale construction. It doesn’t exist in any meaningful sense.

Blaming some abstract concept when things go wrong is ignorant at best, irresponsible at worst, and childish somewhere in between. Honestly, it’s not much better than saying the devil made you do it. Just sounds a little better in present company.
So don’t do it.

That is all.

Rainbows and lollipop kisses,

-Jason

One hell of a nightmare

Usually when I dream, I at least have the suspicion that it’s a dream… I just had a nightmare that was unrelentingly vivid, and even now that I’m awake, I’m still shaking.

In the dream, I get a car, and I’m driving around Tokyo. It’s a rainy day, and I’ve been walking around Disneyland. Daryle and Amy are in a car behind me. I’m at a stoplight, and the lane I’m in becomes a parking lane on the next block, so I speed up as soon as the light turns green, merging lanes so that I can get ahead of the car next to me.

Except my foot’s all slippery from the rain and I can’t get to the brakes.

When I run over the cars at the next light, I remember being a bit surprised that I didn’t outright crash into them, but instead went over them. Maybe my car’s lighter than I thought. Maybe no harm is done. I start my fight or flight response… maybe if I speed up, they won’t catch me and everything will be normal.

But I pull over to the side of the road. Good thing, too, because one of the cars there was an unmarked cop car, and it’s pulling in right by me.

As it pulls in, I notice it has a gaijin in the back in cuffs, and he’s mouthing something to me urgently. I can’t tell what it is.

They get two half-Japanese, half-gaijin cops to drill me, the classic bad-cop, good-cop routine. One starts talking about how I was drunk and ran over a kid, which I of course object to — I didn’t have a drop to drink, and there was no kid.

Except there was a kid. Somewhere between 5 and 8. And he’s dead.

Suddenly, nothing I say will matter. There won’t be a trial. There won’t be a waiting period. My visa’s going to be cancelled and I’m going to be sent back, without so much as saying goodbye. And I’m going to have to live with being a murderer for the rest of my life.

What I remember after that is the horrific crying, the non-stop, body-shaking wailing that I collapsed into on the way out of the station. I’d explained my situation, how I just hadn’t driven in awhile, and my foot slipped, and how sorry I was, and it’d fallen on deaf ears. Well, of course they’re deaf ears. I’m a murderer.

I get back home, and for some reason, Shawn is the only one meeting me there — Daryle and Amy are nowhere to be seen. As the cops are walking me along, Shawn is protesting, saying that “You don’t know this guy, he’s got this awesome website he’s helping us make, and who’s gonna take that over?!” and I just fucking lose it and yell and yell and yell at him to shut up, just shut his mouth and go the fuck away.

When I get in my apartment, I fall apart, crumple up in a corner and just cry.

No saying goodbye to Japan.

No saying goodbye to my kids. Who knows what they’ll do for a teacher. Who knows what they’ll say.
No goodbyes to the JETs. Everything I’d been planning to do for them, up in smoke. No plane ticket back. No nothing.

No Golden Week in Okinawa. No saying goodbye to Kana, no explanation to her.

And when I come back, what then? Could I ever live with myself again? I’m a murderer. What could I possibly do that would fix that?

I cried for what seems like hours… then I woke up. It’s the crying I remember and the crying that’s staying with me, even as I finish typing this up. Terrible, gutteral moans, crying until there weren’t any tears.. convulsing like I was dry heaving, until my sides physically hurt. Then doing it some more.

At least I have no classes to teach today.

The future

Still have to find time to post about this past weekend, which was chock-full of cherry blossoms, high school friends, and dancing Elvises, but in the meantime, I figure I should update some of you on my plans for the future.

Since continuing here in Japan would be quite difficult (and because, being a foreigner, it’s a conseqeuence-less fantasy land, which really bugs me), I’m not renewing my contract after August. My (extremely rough) plans are:

  • Wander around Asia for a month or two until I have to go back to the states.
  • Visit folks in Kentucky for a bit.
  • Go back to California, either LA or San Francisco, and do CG for a bit. I’m open to staying for more than a couple months, but if nothing spectacular happens, I’m planning to go to…
  • Europe for a couple months, to visit folks I know from all over.
  • Maybe settle in Europe for a bit
  • Graduate school for art, perhaps. Or writing. Something creative.
  • ???
  • Profit

Not really thought out, but that’s basically what I’m looking at.

Oh yeah

And apparently I was summoned for jury duty in LA this week.

Gonna be a hell of a commute.

The good with the bad

So I’m coming down the home stretch on my stay in Japan, and in the span of one week, I’ve had a bevy of experiences illustrating exactly what I’ll miss and what I’ll eagerly try to forget about Japan.
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First, the good. This weekend I went to a fertility festival in Kawasaki, a bit outside Tokyo. It was stupendous. Statues of penises everywhere, transvestites in kimonos, genitalia-shaped candy, the whole nine yards. I went with a troop of foreigner friends, and we had a LOT of pictures taken of us – specifically Amy, who has large breasts, was wearing a tank top, and working away on a giant cock lollipop.

The Monday after the penis festival, I went to my favorite elementary school, where I’ve been able to establish a great rapport with the teachers and staff. They like me a lot there. So much so that when they changed up my shoe locker (we have different shoes for inside versus outside), they gave me a special nameplate… with my name in kanji.

I should explain that both my first and last name are nearly impossible to write in kanji. There is no naturally-occurring “jei” sound in Japanese, nor is there a “po” sound. My teachers got around that by writing it out as “jieison” —慈英尊. The kanji mean [love][english][revered]. Pretty much everyone agrees it’s a kickass name.Having kanji for my name meant a lot to me. It made me feel included in a culture where inclusion is everything. Sure, I still have people staring at me on the street, old ladies amazed I can write kanji and use chopsticks, and I still get the “Wow, you’re really good at Japanese” every time I so much as say one word, but at that elementary school, I really feel like part of the family. Everyone talks to me. They invite me out for get-togethers. They keep me in the loop as to what’s going on. I really feel at home.

Contrast that with my junior high. Recently, with the school year ending and starting again (my contract actually started me in the middle of the Japanese school year, weirdly enough), a lot of teachers have come and gone. Because I wasn’t able to go to their going-away party (they forgot to even tell me there was one until the day before, let alone invite me), I wrote each and every one of them an extensive goodbye note in Japanese. It took me literally all day.

Apparently, several of my favorite teachers actually wrote me back. But I’ll never know what they said. Because the other teachers lost the goddamn letters.

Because of all the new-year hubbub, they moved me around, so now I’m sitting next to the English teacher who isn’t actually very good at English. More than that, she’s incredibly awkward to talk to, and chronically absent. This wouldn’t be a problem, except every single teacher in the entire school is somehow terrified to talk to me in Japanese, afraid I won’t understand them, or that I can’t look up the words I don’t know. They don’t even try. They just route all replies through her, and will never talk to me face-to-face. They have incredibly involved impromptu meetings, water cooler chats, and whatnot, speaking as fast and in as much slang as possible, so that I can’t even understand what the hell they’re saying. In the rare event that I do understand, it’s all going so fast that I can’t formulate a response in the time it’s taken for me to decipher what they’re saying.

Sometimes all the teachers will spontaneously get up and leave the room, or crowd by the window, and I won’t know what’s going on. I have literally had intense, hushed conversation conducted in a circle around me, and nobody bothered to so much as look at me. I have had people pretend they can’t hear me so that they don’t have to talk to me.

It’s honest to god the most frustrating work environment I’ve been in, bar none. I think I actually preferred the CEO of Digital Domain calling me a worthless idiot (to my face) to being the invisible man.

I know I’ve got a reputation at this school for being quiet and reclusive, using my computer to do god-knows-what (usually I’m working on that lesson-sharing website). This really bothered me for awhile, but at this point, I’m just sort of giving up. Every time I try to initiate conversation, it fails miserably. I try and maintain perspective and remember all the good times I’ve had in Japan, but given that I’m here 3 out of 7 days in the week, it’s kind of difficult.

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