Japanese Commuter Diaries

Intro here.

On the train. Between my terminal stations, there are multiple stops on my train ride. The “rapid” version has about five stops. The regular, more.

Three of the stops are fairly big country stations. Two are for towns. The other is for an onsen resort village. Onsen are Japanese hot spring spas. Basically gender segregated, communal (sometimes private) hot spring baths that people soak in. The hotels attached to the spas are usually pretty big, and a popular holiday destination for Japanese folk of all ages.

As my train passed through the onsen village this morning, I happened to be staring out the window at one of the bigger hotels. It’s wide, with at least fifteen stories overlooking the whitewater river. Big and nice.

Most of the room windows had their blinds drawn. My eye was drawn to a window about halfway up.

A man was standing sideways at the window. A woman was seated in a chair right in front of him, clearly giving him a blowjob. Her head bobbing away. Him leaning back in a lower back stretch, watching the train go by underneath.

Predictably, I suppose, the man was wearing a track suit.

The Judged

You can judge me all you want. That’s fine. But it doesn’t stop me from understanding you.

I think I am a troublesome rascal for you, and this is why you pester me so. You have constructed your notions of the world through the prisms of your philosophy, requiring everything be made to fit into stark categories. All this in aid of your Cause. Black and white. Right and Wrong. Those who are evil and must be judged, versus those who fight the good fight alongside you.

Now if I was simply evil to you, I think you would not trouble to assail me. It would be sufficient to stick me with some standardized label of dismissal. But something in my mere existence angers you. I do nothing but quietly live my life in a way slightly different than yours, but still you attack me as though I was the worst of those you fight. Yet I think even you must admit that in your spectrum of evil, I barely occupy the mildest edge.

This is the trouble with stark absolutes. You look at me and see mostly white; yet a white stained with stripes of black. You would decontaminate me of those stains: purify me through an immersion in your philosophy; a baptism into your Cause. What you fail to perceive is that there is no clear division of my parts. Grey is not a dirty white, it is its own entity. And I am nothing if not a spectrum of greys.

“But there is black there,” you may scream, “and I cannot abide it, for I have sworn myself its bitter enemy.”

Well, if I cannot be grey to you, then I must be black, and you must despise me as you do your worst enemy. But I am not your worst enemy, am I? Nowhere near it. And this is why you are so angry with me: for in me you see your Cause’s ultimate failure.

Why I am able to anger you so, simply by asking a question?

Because you have no answer that doesn’t paint me as evil. Your absolutism requires that you convict me based on thoughts you suspect I have. For in your philosophy, thoughts themselves become crimes. Your entire philosophy depends upon this, and without your philosophy, your Cause is mere noise.

You seek a revolution, yet paint those you would have fight for you with the same brush you swipe at your enemy.

So I say again: you can judge me all you want, and I am more than happy to leave you to it. I simply ask that in future you keep your judgements of me to yourself. You are no longer of any more interest to me than a puzzle solved. Until you can speak to me from within the beauty of a spectrum of greys, I have no more use for you.

Good day to you.

Road Trip

by Balls Malone

After about an hour of driving she had one of her episodes where she compulsively needed semen. Happy to oblige, I pulled over and she blew me. For all her enthusiasm, she was never very good at head. It was like she was attacking it; little animalistic grunts with manic, jerky motions. A bit frightening, actually, but head is head.

Afterwards, inevitably, her mood soured. We stopped a while later for lunch and recriminations.

Commuting on the Local Japanese Train

I live in the mountains of central Tohoku, Japan. Every workday, I commute about an hour each way by local train. The line I take cuts through numerous rural villages and natural areas, including a scenic volcano with ski resorts. It’s beautiful.

There’s a rhythm to the train that I love. The rocking of the cars. The way it seems to breathe as its pneumatics operate. The energy of the people, all in their own private bubbles, yet sharing this communal space together. Forced into each other’s worlds, if even just a little, we share this mundane daily ritual together.

I suppose I would be a lot less enamored of the experience if I had to commute in just about any other country. But this is Japan. Polite and orderly to a fault, the Japanese are ideal commute companions.

It helps that have no lingering distasteful associations with trains from my previous lives. Growing up in Alberta, Canada, I never had much a chance to experience passenger trains. Buses are the mode of transport that I loathe. I hate their smell. Their motion. I hate waiting for them, and I hate being on them. Buses have been ruined for me by too many hours of being crammed into them going to and from school; packed in with bullies and random big city psychotics and smelly geriatrics that want to talk. Being on a bus always makes my skin crawl just a little.

But trains? No problem. They carry with them all the romanticism of bygone eras and international travel experiences. I’ve always loved trains. I grew up near the rail yards and the middle of the night booms of the freight cars being shunted was always a comforting sound to me. My friends who slept over thought the sounds were monsters. No, it’s just the trains, I’d tell them.

When I agreed to take the job that would require this commute of me, I realized that the train ride would become the anchor of my day. Each leg a stable bookend to compartmentalize my work life from my private. It has been just so.

But what to do in during this time? You see, I have no smartphone. No tablet. Is this a modern purgatory I subject myself to? No. It is a precious chance to unplug. Unplug from my family responsibilities. Unplug from my coworkers and work life. Unplug from my online personas and the steady stream of toxic news that otherwise pollutes my consciousness.

It is a time to plug into myself. To listen to that inner voice that gets drowned out in the barrage of those other incessant commotions.

It is a time to stare out the window. To gaze at the snowy hills or mountain; the little roads winding through the rice paddies; the dilapidated towns nestled amongst the trees and hills. A time to people watch. Maybe send something back to the woman who’s been eye fucking me from across the car since she sat down. To wonder what the interesting looking person opposite me is writing so furiously in their notebook with a twenty year old mechanical pencil.

A time to zone out and let my mind wander. Be entertained by whatever nuggets of memories wash up, seemingly at random; the snippets of songs I haven’t heard in years; the lingering images of last night’s otherwise forgotten dreams.

These are all internal pleasures that are being lost to us. Obliterated in the steady barrage of internet product we subject ourselves to constantly. Well, not so much anymore for me.

Then there’s my plan for what to do with my time. My plan to turn it to my use in a more explicitly productive way.

I write.

Writers write, they say. Too many aspiring writers, however, fetishize the process of it. “If only I had the ideal writer’s nook to work in and inspire myself, then I could write!” they tell themselves. Typewriters and cluttered desks with rustic views; leather-bound notebooks and fountain pens: these are like smut to the aspiring writer. What perfect combination of materials and circumstance will finally allow these dreamers to pursue their craft? If only that could be found!

Well, there is no such formula. They have the wrong idea. Writers write. So grab a pencil and some paper and fucking write already. You write wherever you happen to be when you have the time to do so. Steal the moments from the bitch tyrant of time whenever she leaves you the opportunity. There is no other way.

Fucking do it. Or don’t. It’s not my problem.

As to my writing time on the train commute, it took me about three days and five legs to get comfortable with it. Every word was like pulling teeth until my mind adjusted to the reality I was forcing upon it: this is where we write now, bitch! Now, perform!

Once I was used to writing on the train, it fast became the ideal venue for me. On this vehicle I have no means to distract myself from the writing goals I have set out for myself. I’ve never had a more productive time. (In case anyone is wondering, I am presently working on a fantasy novel. More on that as it develops.)

Before, at home, I had to attempt to schedule writing around my family’s schedule. Less than ideal, with a toddler and an exhausted wife to deal with. And when I did have the chance to sit down and focus, the tool of my craft, the PC, also doubles as my main vehicle of procrastination. When I hit those dull, low moments in the writing process, where every ounce of my being hates the work, it is all too easy to click open a browser. To check those feeds.

To plug right back into the sea of noise that sweeps away those vibrant little threads inside that must be carefully plucked up and woven together into notions to be explored through the written word.

Not so now. No Wi-Fi on this motherfucker; we’re in the boonies here! Now when I hit those low moments where I don’t want to write, all I can do is look up from the screen and engage with the train and its journey. There’s always something to take my mind off my creative issues. Oh, how lovely! Snowy mountain in fog. Pretty Japanese lady peeking at me yet again, eyes a sparkle of shy desire. Salaryman checking his tablet and nose breathing angrily; I wonder who’s all up in his shit today?

Then, soon enough, my brain resets and I begin writing again without any thought. It’s natural, after all: my laptop is open right in front of me. I’m bored with looking out the window, or checking out my fellow passengers, so I may as well hammer out another couple hundred words.

As I have just done now.

The soft clicking of my keyboard disappearing into the racket of the train and the murmur of the people on it.

Catchunka-chunk… Catchunka-chunk…

…and on and on we go.

America’s Patriotic Cop Killers

When American gun lovers and gun violence fanboys fall back on the argument that they need the Second Amendment and their guns to protect against governmental tyranny, please keep in mind that they just told you that they need their guns in case they need to kill police officers. That is the practicality of what they are envisioning. There is no other way to interpret the argument.

To take this one step farther: this person therefore has a scenario in their head where cop killing is completely acceptable. Perhaps there is a secret signal that certain bloggers have arranged. “When I post an upside down American flag, that means I think it’s okay for ya’ll to start killing pigs.”

Of course, there are plenty of criminal and antisocial people out there who advocate cop killing. I’m just a little surprised how cool mainstream society is with folks explicitly saying they are preparing to kill police when those people are:

A: White.

B: Also hitting Republican or Trumpist talking points.

And C: Framing the conversation in nebulous terms of constitutional rights and freedoms.

It seems to go over everybody’s fucking heads. They’ve heard the arguments so many times, have had those arrangements of words droned into their ears by supposedly patriotic people for so long, that it doesn’t really have any meaning anymore. The arguments are couched in the language of America’s foundation myths. A fight against tyranny! Taxation without representation! Therefore, I need my stockpile of military grade killing machines for when the government comes to take my freedoms!

It sounds so much more reasonable than someone saying they are planning on killing any police that try to arrest them for whatever reason.

But have a black rapper allude to something in art and people lose their shit. This is nothing new, of course. Clapton sings “I Shot the Sheriff,” and white folks sing in chorus; Ice Tea connects those dots in a more direct fashion and he gets a congressional committee shoved up his ass.

All I’m saying here is that when you hear the gun rights people going on about tyranny and all that, you should try to clear your head from the fog of foundational propaganda and realize what it is they are actually talking about. Just because they are white and wearing an American flag does not mean they are any less dangerous than other groups that like to talk about killing police. It’s just that their gang colors are red, white, and blue.