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The Hammering Heart

Still beating.

Month

July 2008

The Love Hotel

Last week was the day that Yoko and I agreed that we would go to Rosetta Stone and not leave or come back until the morning. At the usual bus stop after work, I was standing and eating Pretz, which are nothing like pretzels and pronounced “Pritz”, like “spritz” with something gone wrong. It was eight-thirty-to-nine-oh-eight, as the bus takes that long to arrive, and I was standing next to a man from whom I sensed an aura of either malice or some other non-normal thing. It turned out, after an unusually eloquent and outgoing greeting, that he was just a foreigner. “Malaysia,” he said.

We talked until we got off the bus and neared the train, station, at which we parted ways since he was headed for Nagoya. Little did he know that I would be going there as well shortly after.

Well, Yoko and I did go to Nagoya and we did go to the Rosetta Stone and we did stay until there was no train left to board, but I let something, likely the drinks, get the best of me, and before I knew it I was a woozyman wanting a bed. She graciously agreed to leave the bar contrary to original plans and seek out a hotel, which I graciously agreed to pay for. Naturally the only seemingly affordable hotel still open at the hour was a love hotel, which if you haven’t heard, is where you go if you want to sleep in a bed that hundreds upon hundreds of people have had secretive, seedy sex in. There were spider webs with spider eggs in them greeting us at the backdoor, which is the only kind of door these places have. The only room left vacant was the expensive one, meaning that everyone had gone for the cheap rooms. If you’re going to go out of your way to have seedy sex, might as well make it real seedy.

I used to dream of going to the love hotels. This was supposedly a nice one, meaning that the vermin were confined to the stairwell. The room itself was nice-looking, and had a variety of lights, several of which were very, very erotic. A mirrored ball would’ve done wonders for the place. There were regular mirrors everywhere else, and a big bed which, though clean, in my mind was plagued with a tawdry, tawdry history hovering around it. Tired and woozy as I was, I couldn’t stop trying to calculate how many times sex had likely been had on that mattress, and how many different types of sex, at that. The doors were thick and padded, to muffle the sounds coming from inside, which, in our case, were limited to lines like “What the hell are we doing here?” and “Hey, did the wall just move?” The place even had an N64, for those people who are turned on by jagged, ’90s renders of Mario beating up on Kirby.

Well, we got our six hours of sleep, woke up, and paid through a slot in the door. Nowhere else in the world are the sticks this far up people’s asses. You pay through a slot in the otherwise airtight, soundproof door. Everybody here tries to act like they never take a shit.

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From the Welcome to Reality Department

So I got an email last week, probably a couple hours before shattering my teeth, saying that a giant manuscript of Zaregoto 2, the last book I translated, is coming in the mail peppered with Japanese comments from the publisher of the original book, Kodansha. “Please address these comments thoroughly within a week, and while your at it, go shatter your teeth today,” they said.

Today that manuscript came.

First there was a cover letter. In it, a woman, Shiina, gave an overview of the major problems she had noticed. Apparently there is something of a debate between the American and Japanese publishers as to how “. . . .” should be translated. The answer, which nobody seems to be acknowledging, is that it depends on the context. You can’t always translate it as “. . . .” and you can’t always translate it with words. So anyway, she’s bitching about there being inconsistency in how I translated “. . . .” throughout the book.

The other major complaint is that there’s a giant, 1.5-page section in which the speakers are continually mistaken. It’s a whole scene where two guys are conversing, and all the quotation marks and tags are wrong. I read over the scene and immediately thought “Hey wait, I’d have to have been an idiot to think this guy said that.” I also had no recollection of writing the scene that way, so I checked my original Word file. Sure enough, the American editor had done it. Changed the whole fucking scene. Swapped quotation marks, added things like “said (insert name of wrong guy),” added paragraph breaks, et cetera.

So then I got to thinking–could it be that most of this person’s complaints are in regards to things that someone else changed? I started looking through her comments. The manuscript is peppered with things like “too concise” and “this word actually means (insert a word that means pretty much the same thing)”. I checked my original draft, and sure enough, like 80% of the shit she’s commenting on is stuff I didn’t write! She’s essentially asking me to change this edited version–which I’ve never seen before, mind you–back to what I had written!

And the worst part is, this is probably a pretty damn regular occurrence in this line of work. Anyway, I don’t know what to do. Kind of want to just blow it off. They did already pay me.

On board!

Holy shit.

On second thought, I guess I’ll just tell you what happened. So I was racing to make it to kindergarten in another prefecture on Saturday, and due to a mistake in purchasing my ticket, I was made to be about twenty-five minutes late. The principal called me from the train wondering if I was coming, and told me, perhaps jokingly, to run once I got off the train. Joking or not, I wondered if I was keeping a whole auditorium of wealthy parents waiting, as I was scheduled to be performing music for them. So once I finally got to the station, I bolted off the train and up the stairs, which were made of concrete, and which caught my foot along the way, sending me cascading, teeth-first, into them. My two upper front teeth shattered, and a woman next to me said something to the effect of “Oh me, oh my” before continuing up the stairs nonchalantly. As blood poured out of my lip, which had been sliced open by my now razor-sharp teeth shards, I continued to rush–limpingly–through the gate and to a taxi, which I tumbled into, still bloody and cursing in English. I looked up at the fresh-faced driver, who couldn’t have been any older than me, and possibly not any more Japanese. “I gotta get to this kindergarten,” I said between curses. He sheepishly took a note with the address from me and punched some buttons into his GPS navigation computer. Fifteen minutes later, our cab was stuck in the middle of a narrow bicycle path, teetering over a rice paddy, with tree branches scratching against us on the other side. Eventually the car came to a stop as the path was too narrow to proceed. I looked out the window to my left. The actual road was about five meters away. Why had he chosen to turn onto a three-foot wide bike path instead of a nice big road that obviously went in the same direction? Because the GPS computer said to go left, and instead of actually looking at the planet Earth, he was looking at a squiggly red line. So I pay him the fifteen bucks, get out of the car, and proceed on foot. Luckily the school was straight ahead, but I wasn’t in any condition to run. Ultimately, I missed the first two kid performances, but still managed to do my own two songs (Window Pain and My Positive View, for the curious), albeit with blood coming out my mouth all the while.

On a lighter note, I got my teeth mostly repaired yesterday for about 20 bucks, and it only took half an hour, and was completely painless. Seems too good to be true.

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