Sayonara, Kim. We’ll miss you in Tokyo. Thanks for a great dinner at a fabulous restaurant. Sorry I wandered off and fell asleep in your room upstairs! Good thing, too, since we left your place at 2:30 and I had to get up for work at 7:30!

At least I now have an excuse to visit Hawaii again. Take care of yourself, OK?

Sunday was an interesting research day for Mercy and I. We examined a lot of information about “The Family” (no direct link; should be the first link Google turns up.) Mercy’s got a great attitude about having been raised in a cult. I’m most impressed by the fact that she doesn’t victimize herself. She was lucky enough to have been raised by a less fanatical subgroup that didn’t, or couldn’t, brainwash her. Her own strength of character carried her through the roughest times, and eventually out of the system.

Not all were so lucky. The most factual summary of what these folks were capable of doing to a person is detailed in this article by Tommy Gunn. While lots of the other anti-Family diatribes circulating on the ‘net are filled with personal venom, this one rings true. Try and ignore the crazy formatting, and read the entire story. Mercy’s confirmed most of this (she’s violently disagreed with many other articles) Though she still maintains that this guy brought his fate on himself, she agrees that “The Family” was capable of this sort of insanity.

Just take these articles with a grain of salt. You’re not going to get objectivity from anyone involved, especially those with an axe to grind AGAINST these things. Cult Awareness & Information Centre (CAIC) has a full index of other articles, or if you prefer something with less ugly graphics, you can visit the directory index. A quick search on Google will turn up weeks’ worth of reading.

Before you guys get all uppity about this, please read with intelligence, especially this report by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Looks like there were some radical elements of this group that did nasty things, but they were limited to specific places (e.g., perhaps, Argentina) and specific times (1980s).

I’ve decided that Tokyo is the perfect city for stalkers. Since virtually everyone rides the train to work, and virtually everyone needs to be at work at the same time, virtually everyone takes the same train to work every day. A would-be stalker needs only the most minimal information to track you down! :/

I can’t stop thinking about it. Mercy and I are off to Phoenix, Las Vegas, and San Jose in just a couple of weeks! What’s more, I’m super excited that I’ll be flying a brand new 2001 Cessna 172 SP, complete with moving map GPS! I keep going over procedures in my head — checklists, inspections, maneuvers, etc. It’s gonna be a blast. Here’s hoping for good weather!

More soon . . . I actually have to get some work done =)

So I walk by my co-worker’s desk to set up a meeting, and she says to me:

“Are you ok?”
“Yeah . . . why?”
“You look really tired.”
“Oh. I got a lot of sleep last night . . . maybe it’s just because it’s Friday and I’m thinking ‘I can’t wait to go home!'”
“Yeah, that must be it. Me too!”

Yeah, suuuure, that’s it. I can’t figure it out — I feel genki, energetic about life, and solidly in my groove, so why do I look tired?

Happiness Rediscovered

Perhaps it’s the fact that I read Banana Yoshimoto‘s Kitchen yesterday. Perhaps the terrible cold and rain yesterday played a part. But as I approached my office’s building this morning, I saw a reflection that startled me. In that large plate glass window, I first noticed my hair, pulled back in a frizzy ponytail, attempting to conceal the fact that I didn’t have enough time to wash it this morning. I then noticed, for the first time, that my coat has light shoulder padding, which I should probably remove. Then, most startlingly, I realized that I looked troubled. Or, more to the point, I looked unhappy.

While the translation suffers a bit (boy, it sure helps to know that “soupy rice” really means ochazuke, or what the heck katsudon is), I was deeply moved by the stream-of-anguish life Mikage and Yuichi lead in Kitchen. I can completely relate to the feeling of inertia stemming from trauma. Most recently it was after leaving Spike. Every original reason I had come to Japan no longer held true. I was left wondering — if they’re not keeping me here, what is? And why? But as Yoshimoto notes in her book, sometimes we leave changing until the bitter end, when circumstance forces us to change our ways.

But we also always come out of it. We keep on living, and things get better in the end. We find new jobs, new friends, new ways of expressing ourselves, new ways of enjoying life. And, as I look around, I see that’s exactly where I am! I’ve got a great new job, with some new on-the-job friends, have rediscovered my creative musical ability through my home recording studio, and have been totally living it up with Mercy.

So what really was disturbing about my reflection this morning was that I’m not really upset. Yet I portray this fussy, upset, hypercritical, introverted, unapproachable individual both in my real life and at work, when I have no reason to do so. It’s a vestigial defense mechanism, erected back when I had just cause to do so . . . and now just serves to put people off, to keep me isolated, not from those that want to hurt me, but those that are trying to befriend me. I keep realizing, over and over again, that life is too short to let habits continue. But like the modern human I am, I bury my self-realizations in layers of self-delusion and regret.

I’m bound and determined not to let that happen this time. Hopefully, I’ll keep reading this entry, and not slip back into a comfortable, but lonely, existence. I’ll keep that self-confidence that people find so admirable (and, apparently, attractive!), but won’t distance myself from others just to stay that way.

World, here I come.