Friday, September 07, 2007

20070907: Everybody needs a little Now moment

The night Audree, Sean and I went out to film in July required us to synch up our iPods. We didn't want to drag a boom box around with all the fire gear as well as the camera gear, so instead, we shared the same playlist on our iPods so we could have some shared reality as I was spinning without disrupting the rest of the world.

Of course, then you have to sync up the ipods. Well, we started counting off -- " 3 - 2 - 1 - Now!" and on "Now" everyone would start the track at the beginning.

I'm on Shinkansen train with Sean -- the cool bullet train that runs from Kyoto to Tokyo (same letters, spelled differently. Hmm...) writing the blog entries so I can post them next time I get to an internet connection and I started bouncing around in my seat to one of our favorite tracks, "The Nebbish Route" by Shpongle off Nothing Last... But Nothing is Lost.

Fortunately, Sean had my set list on his iPhone because we filmed yesterday so, well, we got to have a bit of Now together.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

20070906: Footage From Arashiyama

Since we didn't head north into the path of the typhoon, we decided we'd go visit Arashiyama, Kyoto again and film some poi dancing. Check out this silk flag poi dancing set by GlitterGirl (and order your own set of flags if you're so inspired!)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

20070905: Rest. Recovery. Preparation. Forewarning.

Sean arrived. More sushi. Freshly imported wine with Spencer. Making plans. Oh, and finding out about a Typhoon. A typhoon? What? Didn't I get enough rain on Monday night? (see "warm summer rain" entry)

Hmmm... What to do. The typhoon is heading directly for the area where the festival is. Maybe we should wait a day and go up on Friday instead...

20070905: Perfection

A friend just got back from her 10 day sit and was finding herself in a place of disappointment over how she hasn't been sitting as much and how it was harder than the first. I found myself noticing the perfection of the experience, and sent this her way:

How perfect your experience it. It is the very example of how you can choose equanimity in each moment. It is the perfect example of it all, actually. Relax into it sister. In a sense, you have both already failed and already succeeded. Now that you have done both, you can just sit back and witness the experience... Even now... With ease and gratitude.

Guy said something to me in a session which is perfect: this is the healing — right not. The crying? That was the healing! The struggle? That also is the healing! You returning to the practice is the practice... Is the healing.

Also, I remind you about the through time nature of your reality and life. You are looking for some permanent shift from a single 10 days. And that comes in very small pieces. It is a gradual thing so as long as you focus on the gradual nature of it, you can’t see the bigger picture. Look back 1 year, 2, 5... See how much more rich your life, experience, skills and mastery are. Even now I’m sure you’re offering yourself more grace, more compassion... More acceptance...


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

20070904: Transformation at Shrines

After escaping the love hotel and accompanying Spencer on his research adventure at the travel agent, we headed toward Kyoto, stopping to watch Transformers in English with Japanese subtitles. It was interesting to see the movie again (the third time, actually) in a foreign country.

There is a line in the movie, which if you've seen a preview you've already seen, about the autobots being really advanced robots -- Japanese models. No laughter in the Japanese theatre. In the US, having seen it twice, I can say there was a lot more laughter -- both in that part of the movie as well as other spots. Alas, not here.

Seating was interesting -- assigned seats and you get to pick them with the counter agent when you buy your ticket. Wow.

After leaving and heading back to Kyoto, Spencer went off to work and I found my way to two shrines. One of them was fairly large where I watched a woman make the rounds to the little stops in the courtyard. I thought it would be interesting to model how she did the ritual, so I did, to a degree. Mom asked me to light incense at a shrine -- partly joking I'm sure -- to
help them sell their house in New York so they can move to their new home. So I did.

Meanwhile, the whole while, I was listening to Seal's song, "Love's Divine" inspiring various thoughts about my own transformation, self perception, molting, emersion... My own divinity.

I replayed the song and danced in the shrine, offering myself to the divine at the temple, realizing that if I'm not here on this planet to dance, I'm not actually sure what I am here for.

I cried, released, expressed, emoted, and in the process, found myself experiencing a wonderful new connection to mySelf. Returning to Spencer's and reconnecting with him later -- how grateful am I he is my teacher as well (a Reverend) -- I noticed how I felt myself coming into balance in the shrine, allowing myself to release the stresses and tensions of months of
pressure, mishap and challenge around PoiGeek and the Temple, around not taking as much care of my body as I will moving forward, about the imbalance of the speed of my mind and slowness of my body... About how inspired I was to get my bicycle fixed now that I live and work in easy biking distance from each other.

Ah, the gift of Being in the Muck of things.

20070904: Locked into the love hotel

As cool as the love hotel is, the most limiting aspect of it is the fact that once you check in, you can't leave the room unless you are checking out. This meant that when Spencer had to get up and go for class, I had to go with him... To late to figure that out, he missed class, we slept in, and then were late getting out of the room.

Of course, the Love Hotel is designed for you to have a "rest" -- a 30 minute use of the space -- or a "stay." We had overstayed our stay, so we had to pay for a rest on top of that. :(

Still worth it though, for 15,600 Yen for the room and only 1,320 more Yen for the rest.

20070904: The Love Shack is a little old place...

In Japan, I've been told the children live with their parents until they marry. This could mean that at 35 you'd still be shacked up with Mom and Pop. Let's say you have a partner and you want some private alone time. What do you do then?

Love Hotels. How cool. They are themed hotels that only allow male/female couples -- not two men, not two women and not you alone. Have a fantasy about Sailor Moon? Hello Kitty? I've heard they have love hotels for just this thing.

In fitting with our theme of wetness for the night (see the entry on "Warm Summer Rain"), we went to the Water Hotel, a really beautiful love hotel in Osaka.

First, we go into the hotel and there is no one there to check us in. You go to a kiosk and select a room, get a receipt and walk to the room. Then you pay - cash -- at the door.

Once inside this lovely place, there was a console with about 20 buttons on it to control various lighting settings, the karaoke machine, television, AC and music. Next to the bed is what can only be considered the Mini-bar of sex toys. Yup, dildos, vibrators, lube and various accoutrements one might use for sexual play. Even free condoms on the nightstand that, in English, said "Family Planning."

Now the theme of our little love shack was water. And we had one of the upper mid-tier priced rooms, so it was pretty nice. Our bathroom? Equipped with a Jacuzzi, steam room, sitting bench and foot bath as well as a massage area and showers.

In the bathroom, a full 6 step set of instructions, lotions, potions and assorted smelly things for a fragrant refreshing bath. After a long day and night and running about, a steam sauna Jacuzzi was in order for me. MMmmmm.

20070904: Clubbing

After braving the rain, we decided to go to a club. We arrived at the Grand Café (?) which is more like a large bar lounge with a small dance area than a club. The 500 Yen cover charge included a drink ticket each, which, really, is quite a deal considering you could easily pay that alone for the drink.

I stuck to water and let Spencer grab my ticket with his while we hung out. Shortly after arriving, a friendly young Asian guy introduced himself to us. He was part of the group of people which comprised about 60% of the people at the club.

Feeling a little cold from the air conditioning on my wet cloths and hearing the music in the other room, I decided I wanted to dance. We headed into the room with the dance floor where I pushed a few of the tables which occupied the dance floor out of my way and I busted out my poi. Other than the security guard, guy behind the food bar and the dj's, we were about the only ones in there.

Squish, squish, squish went my shoes as I slipped on the floor, oggs lit up, and began to shake it to the music. This drew some attention and the group of kids joined us from the lounge on the dance floor.

In no time, I found myself happily dancing with this beautiful asian woman and I realized that dancing knows no language barrier and speaks to people in a universal way that allowed us an hour of dancing filled with lots of smiles and good fun, seemingly for us both.

As we're on the dance floor, suddenly a spray of white stuff comes down -- the illusion of snow I think was the intention. Except, well, I think it was soap. So there I was with socks that were soaked in sneakers that sloshed as I moved dancing on a nice smooth dance floor which was covered in wet soapy water.

Maybe it's their way of keeping the floors cleaner...

September 4: Multiculturalism in the Book store

i have been saying su me ma sen -- or trying to.
it helps.
i had a cool multicultural experience with that.
it means excuse me/pardon me for putting you out -- that sort of thing.
i was in the bookstore yesterday and this girl and i almost bumped into each other.

at the exact same time, she said, "I'm sorry" and i said, "Su me mi sen" -- it was a cool moment

Monday, September 03, 2007

20070903: Warm Summer Rain

Last month when Hunter and I had a gig out in Discovery Bay (see entry for "Fire Dancers Stuck in the fire") and were enjoying the warm summer evening air, we got to talking with Audree (who was our safety for the night) about how our experience on the east coast was so different weather wise. In San Francisco, you rarely experience a warm summer night because the warm air from the Central Valley in the day time sucks the cool air in off the Pacific Ocean, creating the fog which leads to the ever famous expression about "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" or something about that.

At the time, I said I missed standing in warm summer rains and enjoying being able to get wet and not be cold and feel refreshed. Well... I feel complete with that at this point!

As Spencer and I darted off to catch the train and try to meet his friend (ag! We were late!) at OCAT in Osaka, it started to drizzel. Riding the bikes down the back streets on the way to the urban parts of Kyoto so we could catch the train to Umeda, I found myself smiling and enjoying the rain as it cooled me off. The night was hot an dmuggy and the rain was welcome,
especially in the breeze of the bike.

Arriving in Osaka, it was still drizzling. No problem... It felt good.

Soon enough, however, we were experiencing a full on rain. I'm not talking about one of those weak-willed-can't-assert itself sort of San Francisco rains. I'm talking the kind of rain that got your shoes so wet your feet were soaked and the shoes made sloshing sounds as you walked. So wet, I thought, "Wow, I'd be concerned this was a hurricane or something if it were even a little windy." So wet, as I walked behind Spencer, I noticed his jeans were wet almost all the way up to his knees.

I've got my fill of warm summer rains, for now. ;)

20070903: Having a (Silver) Ball

OCAT -- Osaka City Air Terminal -- is a Penn Station sort of place. All manner of public transit converge there and
there's shops and places to grab food along the way.

Outside is a pretty awesome and beautiful metal sculpture. It's a few arches, sort of symmetrically laid out that rise over a story high representing the path of a bouncing ball with a silver ball on the ground in between them. The silver ball is probably over 3 feet high.

We were going to meet Emily here but due to my slowness, we were late - sorry Emily!!! :( But, when we got there a group of maybe 25 urban dancers -- break dancing, pop and lock and vogue style -- the sort of thing you might see in "Step Up" or possibly "Rize" -- were hanging out practicing. Wow. What a site.

I saw some amazing artistry there, including one guy who did a 360 turn (in the air) starting from his hands, pushed up into the air (fully leaving the ground) from one hand, turning in the air and landing on the other hand to complete the turn. Think
Mitch Gaylord meeting the best break beat dancer you've seen -- gymnastic dance. AWESOME!

Thanks to Spencer, I found myself super inspired and, after seeing a rather large roach on the ground and thinking, "hmm, wonder how many thousands are under ground..." I got to work and did a dance of my own. Ah, how I love playing with my 2 balls and string. . .

20070903: Arashiyama

One of the reasons Spencer choose to move to Kyoto when he went to Japan was for the way in which that city represents the history of Japan. Another reason is the natural splendor of the area, represented with awes inspiring beauty in Arashiyama. Bike riding for the first time in at least 2 years (I don't seem to do it much except at Burning Man), we trekked out to the little town pretty late in the afternoon, getting there when the shops were closing.

Not to worry, we arrived at the Togetsukyo Bridge and ... Wow. Breathtaking. The beauty of the small waterfall, the serenity, the sense of the amazing ancient feeling of it. The greenery. Set at the base of a large mountain range in a valley, I found myself overjoyed to witness the beauty of it... To the point of tears.

The whole area was amazing, well kept and quite beautiful. Even the train station was done up with an amazing entry way, lovely water tanks and bamboo everywhere. It was a little haven inside, beautiful as it was, and simply a train station!

We walked along the water to discover a festival the night before we'd seen an ad for. Of course, festival maybe is a bit of an overstatement. It seemed a bit more like a ritual of some sort. There were boats on the water with 2 men, a woman and a small group of what appeared to be ducks or geese. The ducks were on some sort of leash in front of the boat and over the ducks were these burning baskets of wood... Embers shooting out toward the ducks.

On the water were 4 boats full of people watching the "event." Later, as the boats with the fire pots pulled away, I saw the ducks sitting on the boat near the woman. Fascinating experience, really.

And one of my favorite things to do this afternoon was shoot a photo of one of Audree's bags made by dutchy with the tag on and everything. This photo of spencer and this beautiful and spacious Rose Clutch combination wallet and clutch -- big enough even to fit my phone as well as money, oversized business cards, pen, id and more receipts than one person should be carrying -- was taken out side the really beautiful train station.

20070903: Sushi

Oh my did we have a good lunch. For less than $20, we ate copious amounts of really good sushi for lunch. This was my first really good meal since I arrived and I was grateful to be enjoying it. Where did the food come from? Yup, the grocery store. Coo, eh?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

20070902: Kyoto by night

Spencer's such an excellent tour guide! He gives amazing instructions, clear information and along with it, cultural tidbits to make the stay so pleasant you'd think you had your own personal tour guide. Oh, wait, he was that. ;)

He took me on the street car into Saiin where we went to a restaurant that had what seemed a lot like Japanese tapas for dinner. Interesting experience. You take off your shoes -- it's cleaner they think (or at least that's what I've gathered) and then if you want to go to the bathroom you put on these slippers that other people have used before you. How is that more sanitary?

Anyway, after dinner, we took the subway into the central part of Kyotot and went to a main strip near some night clubs. I saw this guy who had the coolest haircut I have seen in a long time. He had some asymmetric carvings in the hair in the right and back of his head. At first when I commented to him, he sort of just gave me this blasé look like an American might go, "been there done that." Then he did a double take and he and all his friends looks at me and said, "Coo" -- dropped "L" and all -- while they gave me the thumbs up.

We walked down the street and found a bridge over water where we shared a clove cigarette. And then I just had to bust out and do a dance. Lighting up the oggs drew a small crowd of mostly young (20 ish?) men. They stopped and chatted with Spencer while I danced. He started telling them I was his Sensei and that I was famous, so I got asked for my autograph by one of them who took a great picture of me, a copy of which I wish I could have gotten. Fun, silly times, to be sure.

We headed back, seeing the guy with the carved hair again -- this time he was all smiles and stares, thumbs up and more "Coo" as we walked by.

In keeping with the rest of the night, we barely made the last train, then barely made the last street car on the way home -- here I was on vacation being rushed around. But I was grateful we got on the last train because that would have been a long walk home and I had not gotten nearly enough sleep for that!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

20070901: I'm in the State of Confusion

I can't quite recall when the last time I got sleep was. I think it was Wednesday night for about 5 hours, waking at 11 am on Thursday. Sean and I were up all night that night and then I got on the plane on Friday the 31st.
At that point, I had a nap, the deepest sleep I'd had in days, for about 90 minutes. Then my neck hurt and I couldn't sleep.

When I landed in Japan is was almost 4 pm the next day, even though it was only about 11 hours later. Passing the international date line -- what a trip! So there I was, up for the better part of 31 hours landing in Japan with more luggage than one person should have. Of course, 1/3 of my rolling cart was poi gear, and most of the rest was costumes -- I mean, how could I go to Japan and not be decked out GlitterGirl style? :)

Slowly making my way through the airport, I found my way to meet up with my good friend, teacher, student and an amazing being in his own right, Spencer, who lives in Japan teaching English while he's studying Aikido. Very East meets West sort of being who inspires me in his journey of self evolution.

I realized though, after my first poi dance at Uzumasa station: I had left the state of California and found myself in the state of confusion... Nearly half way around the world.