Treading Water

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I’ve entered week three of my unemployment experiment, and it has been an ongoing test to my convictions. Not having an income is not a comfortable place for me. I’m treading water. I have been here before and knew that it would be uncomfortable and deliberately made my return to this uncomfortable place anyway. But lately the cosmos have been adding more sharks to the pool, just to make sure I really give a damn.

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Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Epilogue: Too-Ra-Loo-Ra Loo-ra Loo-ra)

It was with utmost sarcasm that I wrote “Atomic Girl,” but underneath its layer of drunken belligerence beat a genuine heart. The song is at once a scathing indictment of the manipulative, self-destructive S and an admission of my own part in creating the terrible situation from which I’d been forced to escape. It’s a step-by-step dissection of a habit I’d developed in my life of being enticed by half-heartedly suicidal girls, allowing them to pull me into their terrible worlds instead of pulling them out. I was protesting the atomic bomb with my finger on the button, and it took a situation as exaggerated as this one to finally allow me to see the caricature I’d become.

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Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 7: I Swear This is Almost Over)

I refrained from replying to S’s inexplicably light-hearted text message. But the next day, I received a follow-up message: “You’re not mad, by any chance, are you?”

I decided I should refrain from speaking to her ever again, reasoning that her safety was at stake but actually more concerned for my own. As evening fell, I received a direct call to my cellular. I glanced reluctantly at the screen. It displayed a giant Japanese equivalent of an S, the rest of her name following like the proverbial stalker following the proverbial me.

“Uggh,” I shuddered, hurling the phone into the garbage bin. I stared at the bin until the ringing stopped.

I immediately second-guessed my rash action on account of the phone not being burnable waste. You have to understand that the town of Tajimi, Japan had very stringent waste disposal regulations, as dictated by the iron-fisted town mascot, the Unagappain a massive, forty-four-page PDF document.

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Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 6: Projection)

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S sat rigid at the well-lit bar, surrounded by young men and women enjoying the placidity of each other’s company. All seemed subtly aware of her smoldering, deathly presence, allowing her an exclusion zone two-and-a-half meters in radius. But precautions be damned for the man with a penchant for pain. Radiation suit off, I approached her.

“Hey.”

“Hi,” she said, not breaking her rigidity.

“Why don’t you tell me what’s wrong?”

“I want to kill myself.”

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Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 5: My Beating Heart)

At roughly midnight, we arrived back at my apartment. My Kiwi friend decided to stay the night at my place to avoid a cumbersome walk home. Just before he went to take a shower, I received a phone call. It was S.

“Greg?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you really. . . believe my story?” She spoke in Japanese. Her voice wavered.

“Well yeah, why wouldn’t I?”

On the other end of the phone, S let out a terrible wail. She wasn’t just crying–she was bawling.

“Where are you?” I asked.

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Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 4: Timing)

A wise or more occupied man would have stopped frequenting the BL at this point. But roughly two weeks later, I went back, for lack of a better idea. I’m proud to say that it was not in forbidden anticipation of once again encountering S, but rather in spite of the possibility of. I’m pretty sure.

The day was the vernal equinox, I believe, which in Japan is a national holiday. My Kiwi friend and I were out drinking “bears,” as he called them, at a gaudy but hidden burger joint called Honey’s Diner. It was one of the few places open on the holiday, but two drinks in, they were closing shop.

“Could sure go for another round,” my friend said. “Any places around here gonna be open?”

“Eh, I guess there is this one place, but. . . if we run into any familiar faces, I’m counting on you to bail me out of a situation.”

“Bear.”

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Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 3: Lackluster Love)

The next time I went to BL, she was there. She perked up as I entered and explained that she’d been waiting for me to show up. She was alone again. Again it was mango juice. I’ll admit that I’d half expected all this. I’ll also admit that I was struck by a faint flashback to about five different late-’80s and early-’90s Hollywood thrillers that I never saw. Was S  to be my own personal Glenn Close? Surely she wasn’t far off. Dahaha. A little Glenn Close humor for you.

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Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 2: S is for…Something)

I returned to my home in the unremarkable town of Tajimi with a newfound love for beautiful, traumatized Hiroshima and a disgust for something I couldn’t quite name. Not for a specific person or government, but for something as simple and abstract as the concept of enmity itself. Naturally for the Bomb as well. I could still see the logic in why they chose to drop it and then drop it again, but could no longer see that logic as “justification”. How could you justify the mass cooking of a city filled with civilians? I love civilians. And the ones in Hiroshima, among other things, make the world’s best okonomiyaki. Also they deserve to live.

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Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 1: The Thing About Hiroshima)

Last April, I participated in the Hotel Utah Open Mic Night and unleashed this smash hit upon the world to great fanfare. “R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-ai! Ai! ! Ai! Ai!” one person yelped.

I’ve always enjoyed playing this song and feel that it’s probably my most competent one, even though it’s also the most maniacal. Dahahahahahahahahahahahaha. If you were to sink my music into the trappings of a genre, perhaps “Manic Competence” would be the most flattering one I could hope for, if not “Melodic Scolding,” which is what I’ve been calling it up until now.

I feel that the formula for good songwriting lies in the aligning of two or more disparate sources of inspiration. Like, maybe you’ll take a visit to the desert one week, then kill a guy in a fit of passion the next. Boom, you’ve got a personal event to write about and an impressive setting from which to draw creative energy and poetic parallel connections and such.

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