Preparation

Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000

Subject: RE: Whatever remains to be said

 

Pocky

I haven't given you food - I've given you a conversation piece.

 

Rejection

I got my first rejection letter today! Suffice to say, my chances of ever working for the Boston Consulting Group are slim. And I was so looking forward to having a fun interview. Ah well.

 

Going to Japan

I received Red's recommendation letter, so now I just have to get my posterior into gear to sign the forms for Japan. At this rate, I've got a feeling nobody's going to offer to pay me enough to keep me on the continent, so it looks like a pretty sure thing.

Study Woes

Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000

Subject: Someone save me from the drudgery

        

There comes a point where having inconceivable loads of work to do ceases to be a driving factor and simply becomes a dull throbbing pain in the back of your skull.

 

How do I know I'm sick of work? Because in the last three days I've formulated more of my second book in my mind than I had in the previous three months. My brain will do anything for a distraction.

 

I have to go look at beta-particles and try to estimate the mass of a neutrino now. In case you can't guess, these things usually don't work out swimmingly, so I expect a hectic afternoon in the lab. Do you know how much a neutrino weighs? About 0.00002 times the mass of an electron. And how sensitive is our equipment?

Drama Course

Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000

Subject: Kittens don't "play"

        

I love the fact that "play with the kitten" really means "allow the kitten to attempt to scratch and bite you to a nasty death." I'm wondering if I'm going to come out of this year with battle scars.

 

In my drama class, we're doing basic read-throughs of scripts selected from those handed in for our play-writing assignment. Anyway, much to my chagrin, mine was one of those selected, so I've had the peculiar pleasure of watching other people stumble through the lines I put down two weeks ago. It's a bit awkward since I'm three years older than the other members of the class, so I'm trying not to draw excessive attention to myself, and being thrust into a position of authority somewhat undermines that concept. Ah well; it should all be fun though. It's just a bit odd being accountable for the words I wrote. Plus, I'd originally been disappointed by the play's uncharacteristic lack of creative vocabulary (I usually throw whatever neat new words I've learned into things I write), but it seems that some of it stumps my classmates anyway, and I'm worried that it makes me look arrogant. Although it is cute to hear someone read "gesticulate" as "gessilate".

 

So I'm in the happy position of trying not to look smart, which I will admit pleases me since most of my time in physics classes is spent trying not to look like an idiot.

 

I think if I could do this all over again, I'd accept the hail of "you'll never get a job" jokes and take a blissful 4 years of English and drama.

Pre-Departure Information

Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001

Subject: Where I'll be spending the next year or so

        

I finally received my address information for Japan!

Preparation

I'll be leaving Toronto on Sept. 11 and arriving on the morning of Sept. 12 in Osaka, where I'll have the rest of the day to recover from jet lag and get horribly lost before I'm shuttled out to Shizuoka, where I'll have about half a week before I actually start working. I asked for a location between Tokyo and Kyoto, and Shizuoka looks like it's exactly equidistant from both (they tell me it's a three-hour train ride from Osaka). It's also very close to Mt. Fuji, which sounds rather interesting since the largest mountains I've seen to date are the Appalachians north of Montreal. I'm wondering if the fact that Shizuoka sounds like "shizuka" (quiet/peaceful) actually means anything...

 

I'm told that they'll deliver up to 55 pounds of luggage to my apartment, but I have to carry the rest with me or pay extra for the shipment. This could be interesting. My purple bag alone weighs 45 pounds when it's full. My knack for dense packing might lead to imminent poverty... or a day of walking around with 200 lbs of hockey bags around my neck on the crowded Japanese transit system. What a nice inconspicuous gaijin I'll be.

 

Oh, and as for my cash woes: I think I'll be okay. I've been working for the last two weeks in a den of iniquity: the CNE casino! (But all my money is legit, not to worry.) (Not that there aren't other reasons to worry, mind you...)

 

I'm going with Blight, which is good and bad in various ways, but I think things will work out. I'll be living in an apartment with two other guys: one from Canada and one from England. They've been there since February and April, respectively. Those of you who know my penchant for picking up accents will know that the presence of a real, live, English guy could be either a good thing or a very bad thing and may lead to imminently strained international relations depending on how things go. My room will be either five or six tatami mats in size; I've yet to determine whether that means "really small" or "we hope you're a contortionist". They'll give me basic things like a bed and a TV-VCR, but I have no idea what the other guys own. We have an air conditioning unit, however, which is all that really matters. Rent is a whopping 58,000 yen per month - $750 Canadian according to today's exchange rate. It's a bit of a change from $308 in Kingston.

 

I'm told it's a 15-minute walk to the nearest station, which means 5 to 10 minutes if I have a clear path for my legs, which will, of course, never happen, so it'll take 15 minutes every time.

 

My main concern right now is figuring out a way to get my wooden swords across, since I've determined this summer that I can't function without them. Some people smoke, I play with swords. Go figure. I think they'll fit in a hockey bag, but it'll be awkward. Somehow I don't think I'll be allowed to carry them onto the plane, though.

 

PS: I leave in 11 days! This is suddenly starting to feel very real... and my shopping list presently consists only of "pants"...

Casino Mike

Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001

Subject: Nihon e ikimasu

        

I haven't seen you in a while, so I can neither confirm nor deny that you have the look of evil. If you do, you should package it and sell it.

 

The casino was interesting. Most of the jobs were mind-numbingly boring and involved "standing by the door so people can see there's someone standing by the door." However, working at the front doors was fun because I got to check people's ID and fight with the ones who didn't bring proper identification. There's something enjoyable about having an argument with someone knowing that the cop behind you with the extended-clip semiautomatic pistol is guaranteed to be on your side. "You have a problem with that? Okay, talk to him." 

 

Interestingly enough, women are more likely to try to argue while guys are more likely to try to bribe you. I couldn't help but wonder what amount you could expect from someone who's about to blow $1000 on blackjack.

 

We had a VIP room that made even the smokers on security feel ill with the thickness of the smoke in the air, and people would sit there with cigarettes in their hands for eight hours without getting up once. These people would line up at 9:15 to get in to play poker the instant the place opened at 10:00.

 

When I stopped working on Wednesday, I suddenly had to face the fact that I'm leaving TUESDAY. This is very, very soon. My shopping list consists largely of "pants" since I own not a single pair that isn't frayed and my employers want me to work in a shirt and tie every day. I'm going to be in a town called Shizuoka, which is rather close to Mt. Fuji and has about 500,000 people. It's got the ocean on one side and mountains on the other.

 

I went to the bookstore today to get a Japanese-English dictionary and something to read that will pass a LOT of time since the weight limit on my baggage prevents me from bringing many books. So I bought the King James Bible. The girl at the register seemed to be particularly nice to

me for some reason and then I realized that I must have looked like a missionary or something. Dictionary and Bible. How do you say "heathen" in Japanese?

 

I've never read the Bible, but it's the basis for most of Western literature, so I suspect this means I've been missing rather a lot in my reading. The King James version is nice and classical ("thee," "thou," "smite," and all the other important words), so it should run in parallel with my interests. I read Paradise Lost over Christmas and realized that much of "accepted" Christian mythology is a lot more messed up than anyone would willingly admit. I mean, Satan has 12 wings and cherubs have 4 faces, while Sin has feral dogs running in and out of her privates all day. It made me want to create a movie of the book just to remind people of how messed up this stuff really is. I could easily see it being denounced as heretical. I'd enjoy the irony. And I really do think the movie would be very, very cool.

 

Still gotta read the Divine Comedy, though. You can never have too many varying images of damnation, I always say.

 

Well, I'll likely be reading your next e-mail from some internet cafe in a town whose main industries include cabinet-making and wicker-weaving. All the best 'til then.

Archie

Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2001

Subject: Departing in two days!

      

Yet again, I seem to have left writing to you to the last possible moment. I'm really sorry about this; it's just that I keep hoping to have something significant to send you, but I always get side-tracked. This is my new e-mail address, by the way, so please use it in future since my Queen's account will soon be out of commission.

 

I was hoping to have either the introduction of my book finished (one chapter to go) or my play finished (started the second half), but random events kept getting in the way. I also worked for about three weeks straight at the CNE, which was good from a financial standpoint, but it reduced my activities to waking up and going to work and then coming home and going to sleep. I was working security at the casino during the night. The [summer camp] ESL job didn't work out because I was third on their short list and it turned out they only needed two people. Ah well. At least I can now afford to go to Japan. I have 100,000 yen in traveller's cheques and a plane ticket on my dresser at the moment. I leave Tuesday morning.

 

I hope UBC is treating you well. Everyone is back at university now, and I'm not going. I find that a little odd.

 

Congratulations on finishing your first draft! I'm filled with envy! I don't even know when I'll next be able to get my hands on a computer. One of the main reasons I got side-tracked was that I realized that I needed to solidify a huge chunk of history with the actual dates of key events, so I set up an Excel table and started spewing things out, but it still takes a while to think everything up, and I'm not finished yet. I have about 1000 years out of a 6000-year history figured out. This, of course, comes after I was finally happy to complete the "unrecorded" history of the world - the stuff of legend that nobody is quite sure about.

 

Once I get the introduction to Book 1 complete, I'll send it along to you, but after that I think I'm going to have to start on Book 0 while certain events are fresh in my mind. I just need another two key explanations to occur in Book 1 to completely set the stage, but they're going to take a little while to write.

 

I've submitted a few articles to the Star and Globe, but so far only the one that was printed has been accepted. I don't mind, though, because I haven't had anything nearly as interesting to write about since, so my articles have been of a completely inferior breed. One of the editors at the Star really likes my work, though. She encourages me even when I get rejected, since it's usually just that my content isn't suited to her section.

 

In compensation for not having anything to show you at the moment, I'll give you a little spoiler of the ending to Book 2, which has been occupying my mind rather a lot lately since I find it completely fascinating. The summary goes like this:

 

Book 3 takes place 17 years later and is about the return of Anthellon and the destiny of [someone]. It is prophesied that [someone] will cause the heavens to tumble to the earth and hold the fate of Man in [someone’s] hand. Many of the characters will make repeat appearances.

 

I'm not sure if that sounds as interesting as I find it to be, but I'll be working on it...

Local Contact

Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2001

Subject: Okay...

      

I'll be arriving in Osaka at 3:05 pm on Wednesday. Depending on how jet-lagged I am, we may have a LOT of time. I'll try to give you a call as soon as I can figure out how to use the phones... 'cause I'm not going to have a phone card, and I won't have any Japanese change... I hope my hotel can help me out there.

 

How the hell do you pack a suit for overseas travel?? This sucks... My mega-bag is exactly two inches too big to be considered carry-on. I may have to improvise. Still no idea what I'm doing with my swords.

 

See you in 2 days!

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