Archive for July 2003

Apologies

July 31, 2003

My recent blogs have been longer than usual, because, as you might suspect, I’m talking about myself. This is an indulgence provided to me only through a Weblog and so I take advantage of it. If any of you are bored of this, change the channel. If you are reading it, I would appreciate feedback. So far, only Sleetse, Tak and Fooky have bothered (thanx, dudes). I will finish this story before the week is out, and I will have gotten it out of my system. Of course, this just means I will be talking about JA stuff again.

Fond Farewell: Take care Capt. Gaijin. Keep in touch through Xanga. CG is leaving today for Japan to work as an English teacher in Shikoku. I hope Kai won’t get too lonely…

Anyway, back to the story….

Not Living Up to Expectation
This is the third installment, a continuation of yesterdays entry.

I was hanging out with a new acquaintance who helped out during the Shogatsu rush. Dave (not his real name) was thinking of starting a band and he had a set of drums. I had a piano, and so he suggested we “jam”. Well, I am (pathetically) self-taught, and not very good, but had pretended–like any 14-17 year-old–that I could play and “acted” the musician, playing at church and boyscout functions ever so rarely–like once or twice. But of course, I had to say, “Uh, yeah, let’s rock.” (alright, all together now… dassaaai.)

Well, one thing led to another and, voila, I was in a band. We were, to be sure, small time and very short lived, lasting nine months–three to get ready, and six to play gigs–in 1973. We played at Asian dances—dances sponsored by and advertised to Asians, mostly Japanese Americans. They were held at places like Roger Young’s Auditorium, the Elks Club and miscellaneous restaurants. These dances were the places for the “in-crowd”, to see and be seen, where guys came to show off their Camaros, Road Runners or Porches, where an Anti-glob could get an illegal drink without the help of “older” friends. I occasionally saw my high school classmates, which was cool, because it shocked them to see me in this kind of environment. But this was rare, which was also fine, for this meant there were fewer opportunities for others to find out what a Glob I was.

This is where I also got my first real lesson in the demographics of JA women in LA. Before our band began playing at these dances, we would go out to scout what the other bands were playing. Bands with a brass section played songs like “You’re Still a Young Man” by Tower of Power or “Beginnings” by Chicago. Brass-less groups played standard tunes that were so boring I can’t even remember what they were. Of course, on these scouting trips, I was pretty incognito. Not a band member, just another Asian face in a sea of Asian faces. I hung with the other band members and met their group of friends, and soon learned the difference between Eastside and Westside. The Eastside chicks were hot looking, but the Westside girls were just plain hot. They could dance. They could talk. And they would NEVER tease. Eastsiders would act as though they were interested in you, but they’d be looking over your shoulder or at their watch waiting for something better to happen—which usually wasn’t a long wait if they were talking to me. But Westsiders, what you saw was what you got. If they liked you, you were good to go. If they didn’t, they let you know right from the start where you stood. It was easier–and oh sooo cooler–to talk to Westside girls because they didn’t give you a lot of bullshit. It really was straight, and easy to handle, for a Glob like me.

But things changed when our band started getting gigs. At a dance, Eastside girls appeared out of nowhere:

“Aren’t you in the band? Ooh, I like the way you played guitar.”

“Uh, I’m on keyboard.” I would try so hard not to roll my eyes. I mean, they WERE cute.

“Yeah, I know! You guys are so good. I really liked the first song you played. I just heard it for the first time on the radio yesterday. How did you guys learn it so fast?”

“‘Free Ride’? By Edgar Winters? Well, we try to keep our fingertips on the pulse of music trends.” (I still can’t believe I used to say shit like that…) But as I would say this, I looked over her shoulder for something better to happen, because I know what was coming next.

“Really? No one plays that song at dances. You guys are so good. Uh, I’m Kathy, do you think you could get me and my friends in free at your next gig?” Yes, Martha, even we had groupies.

Alas, fame was fleeting. We got top billing at an Asian dance once, when the other top Japanese/Asian bands—Free Flight, Heavy Nations, We the People—had the flu or something. Our fifteen minutes lasted from midsummer to the end of the year and then we broke up. But not before I got to meet a lot of people who were not Globs, who taught me to smoke, and drink, and partake in other pharmaceutically unsafe activities. But most importantly, they taught me that I didn’t have to be compliant, that I could complain if I wanted to, that I could be what I wanted to be, that I didn’t have to meet the expectations set by anyone else. The downside, of course, was that this was all happening when I was a junior in high school, a Jesuit high school at that. I would be hung-over or exhausted from lack of sleep from band practice, and I would ditch school. On days I felt fine, I didn’t want to waste it at school. Better to go to the mall or to the beach. Fortunately for me, I had myself a Westside girlfriend, Aileen (not her real name), whose handwriting was exactly the same as my mothers. What a break. As far as the school was concerned, I was suffering from some sort of incurable malady. And in a way, I was: self-discovery. But while I didn’t get into trouble for my attendance, my grades suffered severely. I can’t remember getting a single grade higher than D+ in any of my courses. Of course, if you miss more than a third of school, it’s not surprising.

But even after the band broke up, I still had my friends and we still hung out together. I never reverted to a Glob. In my senior year, my grades went up just enough to graduate, third from the bottom, with a overall GPA of 2.1. I was definitely not university material. While all my classmates applied and got into major universities, I was stuck in limbo.

But that was okay. I didn’t have to meet anyone’s expectation except my own. And I decided to bum around. This is when my mother intervened and said: “Go to Japan”….

More tomorrow…

Apologies

July 31, 2003

My recent blogs have been longer than usual, because, as you might suspect, I’m talking about myself. This is an indulgence provided to me only through a Weblog and so I take advantage of it. If any of you are bored of this, change the channel. If you are reading it, I would appreciate feedback. So far, only Sleetse, Tak and Fooky have bothered (thanx, dudes). I will finish this story before the week is out, and I will have gotten it out of my system. Of course, this just means I will be talking about JA stuff again.

Fond Farewell: Take care Capt. Gaijin. Keep in touch through Xanga. CG is leaving today for Japan to work as an English teacher in Shikoku. I hope Kai won’t get too lonely…

Anyway, back to the story….

Not Living Up to Expectation
This is the third installment, a continuation of yesterdays entry.

I was hanging out with a new acquaintance who helped out during the Shogatsu rush. Dave (not his real name) was thinking of starting a band and he had a set of drums. I had a piano, and so he suggested we “jam”. Well, I am (pathetically) self-taught, and not very good, but had pretended–like any 14-17 year-old–that I could play and “acted” the musician, playing at church and boyscout functions ever so rarely–like once or twice. But of course, I had to say, “Uh, yeah, let’s rock.” (alright, all together now… dassaaai.)

Well, one thing led to another and, voila, I was in a band. We were, to be sure, small time and very short lived, lasting nine months–three to get ready, and six to play gigs–in 1973. We played at Asian dances—dances sponsored by and advertised to Asians, mostly Japanese Americans. They were held at places like Roger Young’s Auditorium, the Elks Club and miscellaneous restaurants. These dances were the places for the “in-crowd”, to see and be seen, where guys came to show off their Camaros, Road Runners or Porches, where an Anti-glob could get an illegal drink without the help of “older” friends. I occasionally saw my high school classmates, which was cool, because it shocked them to see me in this kind of environment. But this was rare, which was also fine, for this meant there were fewer opportunities for others to find out what a Glob I was.

This is where I also got my first real lesson in the demographics of JA women in LA. Before our band began playing at these dances, we would go out to scout what the other bands were playing. Bands with a brass section played songs like “You’re Still a Young Man” by Tower of Power or “Beginnings” by Chicago. Brass-less groups played standard tunes that were so boring I can’t even remember what they were. Of course, on these scouting trips, I was pretty incognito. Not a band member, just another Asian face in a sea of Asian faces. I hung with the other band members and met their group of friends, and soon learned the difference between Eastside and Westside. The Eastside chicks were hot looking, but the Westside girls were just plain hot. They could dance. They could talk. And they would NEVER tease. Eastsiders would act as though they were interested in you, but they’d be looking over your shoulder or at their watch waiting for something better to happen—which usually wasn’t a long wait if they were talking to me. But Westsiders, what you saw was what you got. If they liked you, you were good to go. If they didn’t, they let you know right from the start where you stood. It was easier–and oh sooo cooler–to talk to Westside girls because they didn’t give you a lot of bullshit. It really was straight, and easy to handle, for a Glob like me.

But things changed when our band started getting gigs. At a dance, Eastside girls appeared out of nowhere:

“Aren’t you in the band? Ooh, I like the way you played guitar.”

“Uh, I’m on keyboard.” I would try so hard not to roll my eyes. I mean, they WERE cute.

“Yeah, I know! You guys are so good. I really liked the first song you played. I just heard it for the first time on the radio yesterday. How did you guys learn it so fast?”

“‘Free Ride’? By Edgar Winters? Well, we try to keep our fingertips on the pulse of music trends.” (I still can’t believe I used to say shit like that…) But as I would say this, I looked over her shoulder for something better to happen, because I know what was coming next.

“Really? No one plays that song at dances. You guys are so good. Uh, I’m Kathy, do you think you could get me and my friends in free at your next gig?” Yes, Martha, even we had groupies.

Alas, fame was fleeting. We got top billing at an Asian dance once, when the other top Japanese/Asian bands—Free Flight, Heavy Nations, We the People—had the flu or something. Our fifteen minutes lasted from midsummer to the end of the year and then we broke up. But not before I got to meet a lot of people who were not Globs, who taught me to smoke, and drink, and partake in other pharmaceutically unsafe activities. But most importantly, they taught me that I didn’t have to be compliant, that I could complain if I wanted to, that I could be what I wanted to be, that I didn’t have to meet the expectations set by anyone else. The downside, of course, was that this was all happening when I was a junior in high school, a Jesuit high school at that. I would be hung-over or exhausted from lack of sleep from band practice, and I would ditch school. On days I felt fine, I didn’t want to waste it at school. Better to go to the mall or to the beach. Fortunately for me, I had myself a Westside girlfriend, Aileen (not her real name), whose handwriting was exactly the same as my mothers. What a break. As far as the school was concerned, I was suffering from some sort of incurable malady. And in a way, I was: self-discovery. But while I didn’t get into trouble for my attendance, my grades suffered severely. I can’t remember getting a single grade higher than D+ in any of my courses. Of course, if you miss more than a third of school, it’s not surprising.

But even after the band broke up, I still had my friends and we still hung out together. I never reverted to a Glob. In my senior year, my grades went up just enough to graduate, third from the bottom, with a overall GPA of 2.1. I was definitely not university material. While all my classmates applied and got into major universities, I was stuck in limbo.

But that was okay. I didn’t have to meet anyone’s expectation except my own. And I decided to bum around. This is when my mother intervened and said: “Go to Japan”….

More tomorrow…

Thanks to Everyone

July 30, 2003

for chiming in on the Xanga Premium stuff. I may end up paying for it, if only to support the people who provide this service, and it IS service, especially for guy like me who keeps spewing words out, as well as providing me the opportunity to meet cool, new people online: Taku, Sleetse, Fooky, Nefarious, Tigger, Hanzo (I just love to PR!) as well as allow me to keep in touch with my kids, which are too many to list here…

Not Living Up to Expectation
This is a second installment, the continuation of yesterday’s entry.

Yes, it was a new, cool lifestyle, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I worked part-time at a Manju shop in LA’s J-Town–officially known as Lil’ Tokyo. It’s there I first learned to speak Japanese. I had heard it most of my life and even “studied” it in elementary school, but I never really understood it until I worked at the sweet shop, where both the full-time workers and the majority of the customers spoke nothing but Japanese. The first few weeks were a fiasco.

A customer would walk in, look at the sweets in the showcase, and say, “Eeto, kore to kore to kore wo kudasai.Give me this and this and this.

With a face that begged for understanding, I stumbled over my own tongue as I tried to fulfill his request using my index finger.

“Uh, kore, ichi? Um, kore, ichi? Er, kore, ni?” Uh, this, one? Um, this, one? Er, this, two?

Whew! Fortunately for me, I understood more than I could speak and the owner did not fire me. Even more fortunate, however was the weekend. I worked 5 to 10 on Friday and Saturdays and 5 to 8 on Sundays. I guess the hours weren’t so fortunate. I was puzzled why the store was open so late. I mean, who would buy manju at 9pm? Well, J-Town was the place where many JAs gathered, especially on weekends, when they came to do their weekly shopping of Japanese goods. At night, however, it was the men who came to town to spend there money. First, there was Frank’s pool hall in the basemeng of the Taul Building on the corner of 1st and San Pedro. It looked incredibly seedy… no, I take that back, it WAS incredibly seedy, with old men and young toughs shooting pool with cigarettes hanging out of there mouths at 45 degree angles. Weenies like me, who couldn’t shoot straight, had to play short games, like nine-ball, so we could actually finish a game in decent time. But the regulars played straight pool, calling out numbers, “13 in the corner”, then slide over the beads strung around the tables with each shot made. To these 17 year-old eyes, it was so cool to see these guys shooting for the money they had splayed on the table before each game. I would suck on a Coke as I watched the regulars play rack after rack of pool.

But pool wasn’t the main form of entertainment then. What everyone did was drink and bullshit of hours. There were a number of places. Some of the tonier people would go to the bar in the Horikawa Restaurant for wine or Chivas Regal. The hard core drinkers went to a couple of the dark, nameless bars on the northside 1st Street to drown themselves with dollar shots of cheap whiskey or $2 tokkuri of sake. But the real action was at Eigiku Restaurant, where there was a form of entertainment that preceded karaoke: Namaoke, or a piano bar where the customers sat around and sang all night. My elder senpais would go and sit for hours, to sing, to BS, and to flirt with the waitresses.

“Hey, Onigiriman, lets get a drink.”

“Uh, I’m only 17,” I would confess.

“Whatchu worried about, man. You with us. No one’s gonna ask.” And they were right, the confession was needless.

Well, all these men who went to shoot pool and drink for hours, had to go home to wives. But they couldn’t go home empty handed. They had to take an omiage to appease the missus. So there actually was a demand for manju–or sushi–at 9 in the evening on weekends. These men, often slurring there words, would come in to purchase their peace offerings, as I struggled to complete there orders, all the while secretly wishing they would hurry up so I could close the store and go out.

So the weekend hours were not ideal for a young, eager man like me, the presence of my seekend co-workers alleviated the situation: they were all girls from Roosevelt High School, a public high school… ooooh… lucky me. Why? Because all the hot girls who spoke Japanese worked in J-town. And I got to chat with–and even stand next to–them…m(><)m. Of course, this was just my perception, which was actually blown out of proportion, because I was coming from a cloistered life in parochial school. I mean, for me–a dork–any girl was like a gift from God.

“Oh, thank you God, for giving me this opportunity before I die….”

Well, maybe I wasn’t that hard up, but it was close….

Besides, I was soon to find out that Eastside girls looked hot, but Westside girls WERE hot. My metamorphoses into an anti-Glob began one New Years season, Shogatsu. In the sweet shop business, this period began the day after Christmas as everyone began to buy there stock of mochi, the rice cakes everyone eats on January 1….

More tomorrow….

Thanks to Everyone

July 30, 2003

for chiming in on the Xanga Premium stuff. I may end up paying for it, if only to support the people who provide this service, and it IS service, especially for guy like me who keeps spewing words out, as well as providing me the opportunity to meet cool, new people online: Taku, Sleetse, Fooky, Nefarious, Tigger, Hanzo (I just love to PR!) as well as allow me to keep in touch with my kids, which are too many to list here…

Not Living Up to Expectation
This is a second installment, the continuation of yesterday’s entry.

Yes, it was a new, cool lifestyle, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I worked part-time at a Manju shop in LA’s J-Town–officially known as Lil’ Tokyo. It’s there I first learned to speak Japanese. I had heard it most of my life and even “studied” it in elementary school, but I never really understood it until I worked at the sweet shop, where both the full-time workers and the majority of the customers spoke nothing but Japanese. The first few weeks were a fiasco.

A customer would walk in, look at the sweets in the showcase, and say, “Eeto, kore to kore to kore wo kudasai.Give me this and this and this.

With a face that begged for understanding, I stumbled over my own tongue as I tried to fulfill his request using my index finger.

“Uh, kore, ichi? Um, kore, ichi? Er, kore, ni?” Uh, this, one? Um, this, one? Er, this, two?

Whew! Fortunately for me, I understood more than I could speak and the owner did not fire me. Even more fortunate, however was the weekend. I worked 5 to 10 on Friday and Saturdays and 5 to 8 on Sundays. I guess the hours weren’t so fortunate. I was puzzled why the store was open so late. I mean, who would buy manju at 9pm? Well, J-Town was the place where many JAs gathered, especially on weekends, when they came to do their weekly shopping of Japanese goods. At night, however, it was the men who came to town to spend there money. First, there was Frank’s pool hall in the basemeng of the Taul Building on the corner of 1st and San Pedro. It looked incredibly seedy… no, I take that back, it WAS incredibly seedy, with old men and young toughs shooting pool with cigarettes hanging out of there mouths at 45 degree angles. Weenies like me, who couldn’t shoot straight, had to play short games, like nine-ball, so we could actually finish a game in decent time. But the regulars played straight pool, calling out numbers, “13 in the corner”, then slide over the beads strung around the tables with each shot made. To these 17 year-old eyes, it was so cool to see these guys shooting for the money they had splayed on the table before each game. I would suck on a Coke as I watched the regulars play rack after rack of pool.

But pool wasn’t the main form of entertainment then. What everyone did was drink and bullshit of hours. There were a number of places. Some of the tonier people would go to the bar in the Horikawa Restaurant for wine or Chivas Regal. The hard core drinkers went to a couple of the dark, nameless bars on the northside 1st Street to drown themselves with dollar shots of cheap whiskey or $2 tokkuri of sake. But the real action was at Eigiku Restaurant, where there was a form of entertainment that preceded karaoke: Namaoke, or a piano bar where the customers sat around and sang all night. My elder senpais would go and sit for hours, to sing, to BS, and to flirt with the waitresses.

“Hey, Onigiriman, lets get a drink.”

“Uh, I’m only 17,” I would confess.

“Whatchu worried about, man. You with us. No one’s gonna ask.” And they were right, the confession was needless.

Well, all these men who went to shoot pool and drink for hours, had to go home to wives. But they couldn’t go home empty handed. They had to take an omiage to appease the missus. So there actually was a demand for manju–or sushi–at 9 in the evening on weekends. These men, often slurring there words, would come in to purchase their peace offerings, as I struggled to complete there orders, all the while secretly wishing they would hurry up so I could close the store and go out.

So the weekend hours were not ideal for a young, eager man like me, the presence of my seekend co-workers alleviated the situation: they were all girls from Roosevelt High School, a public high school… ooooh… lucky me. Why? Because all the hot girls who spoke Japanese worked in J-town. And I got to chat with–and even stand next to–them…m(><)m. Of course, this was just my perception, which was actually blown out of proportion, because I was coming from a cloistered life in parochial school. I mean, for me–a dork–any girl was like a gift from God.

“Oh, thank you God, for giving me this opportunity before I die….”

Well, maybe I wasn’t that hard up, but it was close….

Besides, I was soon to find out that Eastside girls looked hot, but Westside girls WERE hot. My metamorphoses into an anti-Glob began one New Years season, Shogatsu. In the sweet shop business, this period began the day after Christmas as everyone began to buy there stock of mochi, the rice cakes everyone eats on January 1….

More tomorrow….

How Narcissistic Can One Get?

July 29, 2003

Good question. In general, Xanga, or any blog for that matter, is a log of one’s thoughts; to wit, a journal. And a journal by any other name is still a journal: personal, self-absorbed, and free from constraint. So I will indulge myself. Will readership go down? Maybe. Doesn’t matter. A weblog, as I’ve mentioned earlier, is an excercise in exhibitionism/voyuerism: I show, you watch; I write, you read. In a way, this is what autobiographies are like, and in many cases the first novel of new authors. Not that they intentionally write autobiographies, but many of the ideas in a “maiden novel” are taken from life experiences. Relax. I do not intend to write a novel here. But I will jot down the experiences of a JA in LA in the late 60s, early 70s, something that some may find interesting to peruse, in that it is a “reflection” of the thoughts of one member of an invisible minority–y’know the one that doesn’t complain, the model minority–at a time when civil rights were blossoming across the U.S…. The entry below is an extended version of yesterday’s entry, because, in a way, I want to qualify my self-portrayal as a “total screw-up.” I don’t intend to justify it, just relate background info in the hopes y’all will not think that a complete idiot got a PhD.

Now, some may be interested in who the O-man is, what makes him click, what makes him write all these daily entries… He is, ahem, I mean, I am not interesting, per se; but my life has been different from yours, I’d bet…. But I make no claims about my style or the worthiness of the content or my effectiveness as a writer, AND I should warn you that I have been accused of writing boring stuff (then don’t read it! I wanna say). Those of you not interested, change the channel now. (click, click)

Not Living Up to Expectation
This is an extended version of yesterday’s entry; more detail, or at least enough, I should say. Names have been omitted or changed to protect the innocent–me.

I was raised in a modest home as the good, little Oriental boy–heretofore, Glob–of a model minority family–i.e. hard working, uncomplaining, compliant. In elementary school, I wasn’t very bright, I had so-so grades, and my dreams were limited to what people around me believed: work hard, go to college, study economics or engineering or medicine. (In a very Oriental tone) “Oh, rearry? Okay, I try hahd!” But I didn’t know how to try hard, or what it entailed, particularly as the son of parents who did not go to college (I’m not ragging on my parents; this is simply the way it was back in the day). I just watched “MyThree Sons” or “Leave it to Beaver” and wondered what I had to do to emulate such a “typical” American family.

I went to a private Catholic missionary elementary school and we were members of the church. We lived a rather isolated life… Actually most of the members did, I think. The school and church was exclusively Japanese American, and we, as kids, never had to deal with other races. We played with each other, and our parents socialized with church/school members.

However, that doesn’t mean I was unaware of my difference. Once, when I was 5, Chuckles the Clown came by to East LA, to a nearby shopping center. As loyal viewers of his TV antics, my sister and I went to see him as many of the local kids did. We tried to get there early to get a good seat and we were in teh second row. Chuckles set up his show in the parking lot in front of Thrifty drugs store, and we eagerly watched his magic tricks and listened to his jokes. He then went into his balloon routine, you know, the one where he blows up long and skinny baloons and bends them into animals? He started making animal after animal and handing them out to the kids circling him. Moving clockwise, he finally reached us. Hands raised and screaming like everyone else, my heart is pounding in anticpation of getting a balloon from Chuckles himself. He hands over animal balloons to kids behind us, then to kids in front of us. Then he moves on… Didn’t he see us? We were raising our hands like everyone else, crying out his name. Didn’t he see us? My lasting image of Chuckles was his back, facing kids, white kids, to my right, handing out those damn balloons.

Of course, my training taught me not to complain. So I just accepted it, trying to understand what happend–he didn’t see us, or maybe he reached for another balloon and forgot us–trying to justify it, as well as a 6 year old kid could. However, as you might imagine, I developed a very real sense of security at school and at church where I was among people who looked like me.

From elementary school, I then went to a private Catholic high school run by Jesuits. “Ooooh.” You’re probably thinking, “That must have really screwed you up.” Well, discipline can be good and bad, depending on how you look at it. The discipline administered by Jesuits is not violently brutal, but definitely limiting, and so usually has the effect of making one compliant or rebellious. As a Glob from a model minority family, I was expected to be compliant and uncomplaining, which I was for the most part. But fortunately–the good–it planted the seeds for rebellion and festered within me until the most opportune moment: a part time job.

“Huh? How can a part time job trigger rebellion?” Well, for a Glob from a very narrow world, getting a part-time job, meeting new and completely different people–including girls–was quite an experience. I should mention that I was kind of a dork up until then–maybe I still am–but the opportunity to meet people who had no preconceived idea as to my lot in life–or simply put, what a dork I was–was a relief, refreshing and even exciting. Here I was, with a brand new slate, ready to fill in whatever was necessary to create a new me: Anti-Glob, the the embryo that was to grow into Onigiriman.

Well, as a new Anti-Glob I had to do what all the other anti-Globs were doing: hang out, smoke cigs, drink scotch, go to dances, talk to girls, and of course, NEVER study. “Wow, is this what everyone else does?” I was enraptured with this new, cool lifestyle….

How Narcissistic Can One Get?

July 29, 2003

Good question. In general, Xanga, or any blog for that matter, is a log of one’s thoughts; to wit, a journal. And a journal by any other name is still a journal: personal, self-absorbed, and free from constraint. So I will indulge myself. Will readership go down? Maybe. Doesn’t matter. A weblog, as I’ve mentioned earlier, is an excercise in exhibitionism/voyuerism: I show, you watch; I write, you read. In a way, this is what autobiographies are like, and in many cases the first novel of new authors. Not that they intentionally write autobiographies, but many of the ideas in a “maiden novel” are taken from life experiences. Relax. I do not intend to write a novel here. But I will jot down the experiences of a JA in LA in the late 60s, early 70s, something that some may find interesting to peruse, in that it is a “reflection” of the thoughts of one member of an invisible minority–y’know the one that doesn’t complain, the model minority–at a time when civil rights were blossoming across the U.S…. The entry below is an extended version of yesterday’s entry, because, in a way, I want to qualify my self-portrayal as a “total screw-up.” I don’t intend to justify it, just relate background info in the hopes y’all will not think that a complete idiot got a PhD.

Now, some may be interested in who the O-man is, what makes him click, what makes him write all these daily entries… He is, ahem, I mean, I am not interesting, per se; but my life has been different from yours, I’d bet…. But I make no claims about my style or the worthiness of the content or my effectiveness as a writer, AND I should warn you that I have been accused of writing boring stuff (then don’t read it! I wanna say). Those of you not interested, change the channel now. (click, click)

Not Living Up to Expectation
This is an extended version of yesterday’s entry; more detail, or at least enough, I should say. Names have been omitted or changed to protect the innocent–me.

I was raised in a modest home as the good, little Oriental boy–heretofore, Glob–of a model minority family–i.e. hard working, uncomplaining, compliant. In elementary school, I wasn’t very bright, I had so-so grades, and my dreams were limited to what people around me believed: work hard, go to college, study economics or engineering or medicine. (In a very Oriental tone) “Oh, rearry? Okay, I try hahd!” But I didn’t know how to try hard, or what it entailed, particularly as the son of parents who did not go to college (I’m not ragging on my parents; this is simply the way it was back in the day). I just watched “MyThree Sons” or “Leave it to Beaver” and wondered what I had to do to emulate such a “typical” American family.

I went to a private Catholic missionary elementary school and we were members of the church. We lived a rather isolated life… Actually most of the members did, I think. The school and church was exclusively Japanese American, and we, as kids, never had to deal with other races. We played with each other, and our parents socialized with church/school members.

However, that doesn’t mean I was unaware of my difference. Once, when I was 5, Chuckles the Clown came by to East LA, to a nearby shopping center. As loyal viewers of his TV antics, my sister and I went to see him as many of the local kids did. We tried to get there early to get a good seat and we were in teh second row. Chuckles set up his show in the parking lot in front of Thrifty drugs store, and we eagerly watched his magic tricks and listened to his jokes. He then went into his balloon routine, you know, the one where he blows up long and skinny baloons and bends them into animals? He started making animal after animal and handing them out to the kids circling him. Moving clockwise, he finally reached us. Hands raised and screaming like everyone else, my heart is pounding in anticpation of getting a balloon from Chuckles himself. He hands over animal balloons to kids behind us, then to kids in front of us. Then he moves on… Didn’t he see us? We were raising our hands like everyone else, crying out his name. Didn’t he see us? My lasting image of Chuckles was his back, facing kids, white kids, to my right, handing out those damn balloons.

Of course, my training taught me not to complain. So I just accepted it, trying to understand what happend–he didn’t see us, or maybe he reached for another balloon and forgot us–trying to justify it, as well as a 6 year old kid could. However, as you might imagine, I developed a very real sense of security at school and at church where I was among people who looked like me.

From elementary school, I then went to a private Catholic high school run by Jesuits. “Ooooh.” You’re probably thinking, “That must have really screwed you up.” Well, discipline can be good and bad, depending on how you look at it. The discipline administered by Jesuits is not violently brutal, but definitely limiting, and so usually has the effect of making one compliant or rebellious. As a Glob from a model minority family, I was expected to be compliant and uncomplaining, which I was for the most part. But fortunately–the good–it planted the seeds for rebellion and festered within me until the most opportune moment: a part time job.

“Huh? How can a part time job trigger rebellion?” Well, for a Glob from a very narrow world, getting a part-time job, meeting new and completely different people–including girls–was quite an experience. I should mention that I was kind of a dork up until then–maybe I still am–but the opportunity to meet people who had no preconceived idea as to my lot in life–or simply put, what a dork I was–was a relief, refreshing and even exciting. Here I was, with a brand new slate, ready to fill in whatever was necessary to create a new me: Anti-Glob, the the embryo that was to grow into Onigiriman.

Well, as a new Anti-Glob I had to do what all the other anti-Globs were doing: hang out, smoke cigs, drink scotch, go to dances, talk to girls, and of course, NEVER study. “Wow, is this what everyone else does?” I was enraptured with this new, cool lifestyle….

Okay, so who’s #1500?

July 28, 2003

Tiggerj or Purin_kun? Whoever uses o****line.net as his/her server I think is #1500… Gee, too bad there isn’t a prize or anything…

Guilty!
Yes, I am guilty. I have been accused of posts that are at times too long, too heavy and perhaps too self-important… Well, I don’t know about self-important, cuz I don’t consider myself that important–I think my kids will tell you that I openly admit mistakes and usually make as much fun of myself as I do them.

But long and heavy? Yeah, maybe. But that’s because I have a lot to say sometimes… pplz if u want lite n fluffy, theres lots–I mEAn LoTs–of sites with personal, lite stuff (I had to try it once, okay?). Some write poems; others write lyrics to songs… wait, I think I’ve done both of these, too… hmm… Well for me, this weekend’s logs have been fluffy, just movie stuff. Now back to the serious…

The Doctor Idiot Is In
I’ve read 3-4 posts lately by people who are feeling down about themselves, about how some earlier actions and past decisions have resulted in a life leading to nowheresville, where nothing seems to be working out. Well, some may be just ranting, to work out some stress. But if not, you guys still don’t have to feel too down. There is always hope.

Yeah, yeah, it sounds hokey, but its true. There really is hope. The only catch is that YOU have to make it happen. Been there, done that. Really.

I don’t want to bore you with the details, so let me cut to the chase–some of you may have already heard this, so you can change the channel now.

I was a total screw up in high school. Bad grades, bad attendance, I’m surprised they didn’t kick me outa school. Couldn’t go to college like my friends so I went to work full time. Hey, all I wanted was money to put gas in my Camaro and go on hot dates. But I began to realize that maybe–jUsT mAybE (this is kinda fun actually)–this wasn’t the right path. But I thought, “Crapola, I’m 20 and going nowhere. I can’t even get into school if I wanted to.” So I started out at a junior colllege–took 5 years to graduate! hahahaha–and thanks to a professor who had a lot of faith in me, convinced me to apply to UCLA and the rest is history.

The point, of course, is that I could have given up. “Ah, its too late to change now.” But I didn’t. I made a conscious decision to act in the present and to dwell on the future, not the past, to finish school–time frame be damned–and see where it would take me. Now if this stupid-ass almost-high-school drop-out can earn a PhD from SU, then I’d bet that everyone who’s read this far can work even greater miracles: cure cancer, bring peace to the Middle East, get Fox to cancel Banzai, y’know, the hard stuff, the long and heavy stuff. I’m serious…