I’ve finally stopped taping patches to my eyes at night and wearing soldering glasses during the day. People now do a double-take when they look at me closely and say, “Geez, what happened to your eyes?”, but this is a big improvement from the “Dear God, get away from me!” that I would have anticipated in the first week. If I keep this up, I may have festive optics for Christmas: red and green!
Now that the relief over not being completely blind has passed, I am beginning to develop standards. With smudged goggles and sunglasses no longer strapped to my face, I have finally begun to test the limits of my acuity.
My right eye is stronger than my left. This is a bit of a pain, as I’d been having the same trouble with my contacts, and had hoped that Lasik could resolve the issue. The doctor told me to wait a few weeks: “You’ll get used to it.”
My vision is still settling down. Dandelion-sized halos still prevail around nocturnal light sources. My left eye also seems to be a little fuzzy from any mid-ranged distance, a problem that is most pronounced around tight text. My right used to be laser-perfect, but since Sunday morning it’s been a bit fuzzy as well. I suspect it may have something to do with the eye makeup I put on as Jack Sparrow for Halloween. Trust me to be paranoid just long enough, then screw it all up with a useless risk. I was officially clear for eye makeup after just a week, but I should have known better.
I am now at the “maybe it will all sort itself out” phase. I have another eye check on the 12th of November, and more every few months. They charge me for the checks, as well as for any eye drops they give me. It’s only 1200 yen for the checks, which, after taking more than 400,000 yen from me, makes me wonder why they even bother. Why not roll it into the initial cost? It feels cheap and petty.
In all honesty, the whole experience has been quite stressful. There’s something a little bit wrong with my eyes at all times. It’s like I’m wearing old contacts on a permanent basis, and I can’t wait to get them out. The computer screen is actually the easiest distance.
A Kabuki Christmas Carol
Our first instructor, Matanosuke Nakamura, introduced us to the basics and walked us through a scene from Shiranami no Gonin no Otoko—ironically, exactly the same scene I’d done ten years ago for the Shizuoka cherry blossom festival, so I got to look pretty cool since I had the inside track. More difficult was the different kinds of walking required for each different class of character, not to mention the tobi roppo, the stomping and whirling departure technique used to make a big exit. I have to pull one in the play, and I’m still working on simply not falling over.
Our second instructor has been Yajuro Bando, a well-established character actor who’s gotten so involved that he’s even helping us with makeup preparation for the show. His classes are less precise than Matanosuke-sensei’s, but he has a greater sense for the dramatic.
This week we were lucky enough to have a break, however—as much as I enjoy the sessions, getting to Shinjuku for 9:00 a.m. every Saturday just isn’t as much fun after a while.
My friend Ed Gilmartin from Of Mice and Men is directing The Crucible in March. Ever since I joined him for a read-through several months ago I’d wanted to be involved, but between Metamorphosis and A Kabuki Christmas Carol, it ended up that I didn’t even have time to audition. I think even if I could have gone, though, I might have given it a miss: great as the opportunity is, I just need the break.
It’s hard to pry me away completely, however, and this weekend I went out to do some publicity shots with Ed and some of his cast in Yoyogi Park. We got some brilliant shots—some of my best ever with human subjects—and I’m looking forward to doing head shots next weekend. 24 cast members will take some time!
Some of the shots below have nothing to do with the show—they just look great!
Black & White
Editing on Pause?
I haven’t heard from the guys at AAR JAPAN in over a week. I officially ‘edit’ for them, but since they don’t have any other native speakers in their stable, what I actually do is rewriting and partial translation when things are really wonky. It takes me at least 30 minutes per page, and three weeks ago when they gave me 14 pages to edit, I told them my maximum was 10 pages per week.
They went away for a week, then, naturally, dropped 26 pages on me. One of the new writers they brought in was so bad that I had to retranslate his entire document. He couldn’t keep his tenses straight—things that were ongoing he put into the past tense or present perfect, and I had to check each one. He’d even consistently misspelled the topic of the story. Then, after spending three hours on a two-page document, I noticed that three of the seven documents I’d been given were from him.
Nearly half the quantity was made up of the monthly activity report for Tohoku. Since this is so long, yet changes so little, the translators and I have developed a regime of indicating the changes in red and leaving the rest as-is to make all our lives easier. But this month they had a new guy on the job, and he decided to re-do the whole thing, doing me the benefit of completely ignoring many of our long-established notational conventions. I had already written two polite-but-strained e-mails when I noticed that, amid the giant dump of half-hearted work, they’d given me an article I had already edited in July.
Weeks ago, my contact with the group had told me happily that they had several high school students helping with the translation. That was when my workload doubled the first time. Now it seems that they’re trying to translate their entire website into English. I applauded them for their enthusiasm, but had to draw their attention to a simple fact: while they may have arrived at a river of information, the amount of water they can take is still limited by the size of their cup. I’m the cup, and I haven’t gotten any bigger.
I suppose it’s my own fault. In the flurry of apologetic e-mails I received after voicing my consternation—including one from the program coordinator, about whom I’d last read as being in East Africa, and I prayed that she hadn’t been pulled off humanitarian work just to answer my stupid e-mail—my contact mentioned that they’d had trouble finding anyone else who could do the job as well as I did. She’s probably right. You’re certainly not going to find anyone else foolish enough to not only edit, but entirely rewrite pages and pages of text in order to bring out the essence of the original Japanese entirely for free.
I have a bad habit of making people dependent on me. Then when they start demanding more than I can give, I end up having to back away.
I’m hoping I won’t have to back away from AAR. I asked them to find some more editors if they intend to steadily increase the pace of translation like this. But I haven’t heard from them in a week. Rather than relay bad news like ‘you’re off the project’, Japanese people tend to just move on and assume that you’ll work it out for yourself. I wonder if that’s happened again.