Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 78: Friday, May 27, 2011

Today I woke up at 6:30. I think it was because I have been super stressed. I used to wake up like this before when I was worried everyday about what I would do with my life, but now I’m worried because I don’t know how to sustain myself since I only made about 60,000 yen (US$600) this month, and it seems like my dream is still just a dream.

Ian mentioned the other day that when he was at the dentist, he had to write down on the questionnaire if he had any symptoms, so he jotted down that he had anxiety about being at the dentist. When it was finally Ian’s turn, the dentist came out with the paper in his hands asking him, “So you have anxiety, huh?” I think I have the same thing- anxiety. I never thought about using that word before, but I think that describes exactly what I have.

I used to use the word stressed, but what I had before went much deeper. I used to get up early all the time even on my days off. I thought it was from the habit of my job, but I also had trouble sleeping at nights as well because I would always think about how fast time was going by and that I would be stuck in this shitty job forever… and that fear would leave me short of breath, sweaty, and wide awake… and today it happened again.

When I woke up this morning, I had no idea of the time actually. I just thought about how it was already Friday- already one week- and I had nothing to show for it… and I had an erection, which felt unbearable… and then I thought about the married woman who I had recently liked and who I could tell liked me back(probably because she has been married way too long and at such a young age)… and then thought about how I was utterly alone… and how I would die like that…

Now I am in the kitchen writing. It’s quiet in the early morning and my head is clear- unnaturally clear- for the first time in a while. I feel like someone has pushed my lungs in because I can only breathe real shallow and the only sounds that can be heard are the vibrating hum of the fish tank behind me, the sounds of a kid crying next door, and birds chirping somewhere in the distance. I wonder if this anxiety is not a bad thing though because this past month I had been sleeping later and later, getting more passive, and falling into a rut…

Taking a shower, I think about my supposed show at the Logos gallery and how I haven’t heard back from the gallerist since our first meeting, which was over a month ago… And then I think about how I had shot my mouth off again to everyone too quickly because whenever you do that, it never seems to end up happening. But it’s okay, I reassure myself because that fell in my lap too easily… and I know deep down that I’ll have to make my own luck from now if I really want to get by and survive.

In the afternoon, Ian and I head to Denny’s for lunch. While we are walking, Ian begins telling me about his American friend/co-worker who had recently left Tokyo and how even though they were good friends, he didn’t really know him that well apparently because he supposedly led a double life. That friend let Ian in on what it’s like being a handsome white man in Tokyo, which he described as being “like a lion in a cage where the zoo keepers keep taking out and putting in new female lions in with [him] everyday…” Of course, I am a bit envious when I hear that, which is a reason why I don’t really like a lot of white people in Tokyo because they tend to live on a cloud of their own. I then try to imagine what it is like being a lion but can’t.

After lunch, I feel super sleepy because I got up so early, so I take a nap for 15 minutes and then tidy up because I have a meeting at home with a young woman from my favorite book publisher in Japan at 8:00, which I have been waiting for all week. The young woman and I had met briefly at an event and exchanged business cards a few days before the big quake, but never reconnected. Last week a friend told me that he had met her, and that she lives in the same neighborhood as me, so I decided to contact her because I am looking for someone to publish my animal series for the Logos show (if it ever happens). Afterwards I prepare for my meeting, but finish early and still have an hour to kill. I want to watch T.V., but since I promised myself to be this new man (who is hardworking and not addicted to television), I tell myself not to, but 5 minutes later, give in.

At 8:00, I meet her at the station. She is cuter than I remember; and I know now that I am in trouble… We decide to get dinner first since we both hadn’t eaten yet. The first hour is a bit awkward because we don’t know if this is business or just hanging out, so we talk about photography and her work. It turns out that she replaces Yuki for being the busiest person I know since she works from 10:00 am to about 1:00 am everyday and only has 3 days off a month… I feel guilty hearing that because I am probably the least busy person I know. Eventually I find out that she is interested in China and had learned a little bit of Chinese in college, so I give her a Chinese lesson and we both start to relax... Even though she is quite small, she keeps ordering drinks one after another, which leaves me embarrassed again because I can only handle two. We end up talking at the restaurant for three hours and the whole time I kept thinking about how lame I am for liking every cute girl I meet.

At home, I show her my work, which she seems to like, but she doesn’t mention at all about showing it to her boss… I don’t push the matter because I’m too shy and a bad businessman. We end up hanging out with Ian and Yuki till 4:00 in our living room, then I walk her home in the rain while the sky is getting light out. When we get somewhat near her building (which is only 8 minutes away from my place), she says goodnight, then quickly disappears. By the time I get back home, Ian and Yuki are already in bed… I lie down on my futon listening to the birds chirping again in the early morning and realize that this was the latest I had been up in a long while and then fall asleep.


  1. This is the kind of post I really like because it's full of stuff that makes me think: I'm glad I'm not the only person in the world who feels that way (and I'm not talking about the lion in the cage bit: that's just crazy-talk)

  2. These kinds of posts- the ones that are about what's going through my mind during the day... the ones where I write them down immediately after I think of them so they stay fresh and vivid- I really enjoy doing these too... but I always worry that they might apply too much to just what's going on with me as opposed to applying to other people (which is ultimate goal of TB).
    So thanks for telling me that... it puts me at ease.
    by the way, what part are u refering too where u feel the same way? I am quite interested... haha.

  3. Feeling anxiety, liking cute girls, watching TV instead of doing what I think I should be doing, all that stuff, but that's not what I mean, really. I mean, that's stuff that I know other people think. What I like about your writing is the stuff where I realize that not only did I not know other people thought it too, I didn't know that I thought it. Like:

    "I then try to imagine what it is like being a lion but can’t."

    I love that, and can totally relate, but would never have thought to write it.

  4. These anxieties you have about trying to make a living as an artist/photographer I have too. The older I got the more anxiety I felt because it felt like I only had a small window to try and establish myself in this career.

    Anxiety got worst when I was only doing art and not doing any paid work. My life was completely out of balance. The only way to make the anxiety go away was to live a balanced life. Took a long time to learn. Though I still secretly wish I can do photography all the time. But then everything else eventally suffered.

    You are not alone.

    Have you read Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland? I found it had a lot of answers I was looking for.

  5. Yeah 100%. This is exactly the same topic that I wrote for myself today as well. We're all bloody stressing out because this sort of life sucks in the early stages. Pretty sure that's till the age of 60 or something, then you can chill out.

    But hell, you've got a far better body of work than I do. I ordered ume-me, umep and mirai-chan earlier. I'd also be more than happy to buy a book of your work. No doubt that you will get your book man, whether it's from this cute girl or another.
    And Does 4am mean you got along well? =)

    If you're scraping the barrel this month, can't you do a follow up on the gallery?

  6. quiet,
    balance... yeh i think that is the most important thing of all... but everyone's balance is different huh? and i guess it takes time to learn one's own...
    i totally agree with u how hard it can be when all of a sudden u decide to do just art... which is unhealthy, bad, and almost impossible for most people.

    i read an interview once EYE, the dude from the boredoms, and what he said was burned into my brain ever since... it was really basic but still it hit me. he said u can't make good art by just eating instant ramen... which basically meant u had to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and especially nutritionally as well instead of living the stereotypical lifestyle.

    i looked up that book on amazon, and think it looks quite interesting. i like how simple the writing style is... doesn't intimidate. i will buy it and read it someday when i am ready. anyways what were some of the things u found useful?


  7. Ari,
    yeah... but i realized that the struggle is the best part... because if we ever do get famous and established and grow fat and satisfied, we will basically always look back to now - the time where we really tried and cared about things- with nostalgia as the good old days.

    ume-me is the most perfect book ever. mirai-chan is up there... u will definately enjoy both.
    thanks, i hope to make a real book soon oneday.


  8. Hi Pat,

    I like that comment from the Boredoms. Very true.

    What I remember most from reading Art and Fear was just reasons to continue doing art. While friends around me were getting married, buying houses and starting families. I was spending all my time behind my camera and not earning a cent from it. How much longer can I go on like this? Thoughts like these makes me think I've lost my mind practicing photography. But balance was the key.

    And strangely, spending a week trying to capture a picture doesn't mean that picture will be any better then something I accidently shoot just by walking down street. Time and good art isn't related.

    I know I will always have to work to support my art. Just like all the great photographers in the past. Not a single one of them were able to live solely by photographing what they wanted.

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