Don and I were thinking, around six months to a year from now, there will probably be organizations forming to build (and rebuild) schools, hospitals, churches, and houses in my birthplace of New Orleans. Where we are now, we can't even donate blood or water, and we're itching to roll up our sleeves and help. We'll do the research and let you know if you find anything; on that note, let us know if you hear of any relief organizations we can join after the new year, please. We can be in the USA for up to a month at a time.
I went to Osaka on the 25th, with plans to see Mike W. and Mafumi, but arrived five hours later than scheduled. The delay was in effort to avoid the typhoon, and it worked - we landed at an utterly calm and dry KIX. Between 9:00am and noon, I wandered around Kobe by myself, in a natsukahii tour resembling my first day in Sannomiya, when I didn't know anybody yet. さびしい回転すし、一人でカラオケ... I was the picture of the lonely gaijin. See random Sannomiya locations for らくがき-like プリクラ. (I'm such a little kid.)
chu_hi, all by herself in her favorite city. Sign me up for a Leonard Cohen afterworld?
Here is a view of the WTC from my Osaka hotel room.
I bought one of the new Ulfuls DVD's, ウルフルV3, about an hour after the thought crossed my mind that there might exist a compilation including the videos for 明日があるさ, and ええねん, and がむしゃら～熱くなれ～. ウルフルV3 has also got the adorably spastic いい女, the entertaining and understatedly genius 事件だ！, and the amazing video for ヤング・ソウル・ダイナマイト (Young Soul Dynamite), which I'd never seen before, and which made me realize why Japan's mayor, Rex Holmes, once compared Ulfuls to the Rolling Stones.
One of the new videos, 暴れだす, reminded me so much of Douglas Coupland's Eleanor Rigby, which I finished a couple weeks ago in Perth. All of the familiar themes are there: parent-child relationships, the craft of making ones own niche in the world, the less-than-graceful way in which other people enter and exit the stage of your life. Coupland's characters have always been believable, but Liz Dunn's crushing loneliness is so vivid that hits you in the gut. Liz's brother's youth-fountain-seeking occupation tricked me into looking forward to a magical elixer ending, a la All Families Are Psychotic, but realism prevails and the reader finds himself grateful for it. (I bought the book in Frankfurt Airport, incidentally, where the climax of action occurs.)
Anyway. The day after I returned from Osaka, I flew to Kuwait; then I had two days off until my next flight - New York. Don and I jumped in the Rav4 for an impromptu road trip to Fujairah. The east coast of the UAE and Oman forms a string of the most popular diving spots around, and we were eager to break in our new gear.
Unfortunately, the famed blue sea we expected turned out to be violently rough. We tried snorkeling anyway, but we couldn't see a thing. (Actually, I could see Don, and I'm reasonably sure he could see me. But we don't need to go swimming for that.) We waited for about 24 hours, staying overnight in the Sandy Beach Motel, but the seas never calmed. Monsoons in India can be blamed; we watched another family try to go snorkelling, and they told us later they've been to the same spot 100 times in ten years, and have always been greeted by calm waters, reef sharks, and hundreds of turtles.
Oh, well. We took off our masks and had fun being tossed about by waves that came all the way from India.
Snoopy Island, an allegedly amazing spot for snorkeling, as seen from our motel room.
Sea: Not blue. Sky also non-blue.
At least it was private; here we see Don all alone on the beach, reading Eleanor Rigby.
Look what Sandy Beach Motel has! Strangler figs!
Don't get too close!
On the 31st of August, I went to New York and was fortunate to meet up with Robert and Masami. From Wakayama! They were some of the last people to see Don before he left Japan for Dubai, and since then they've: Gotten married in Missouri; toured Europe; and moved to New York City where they can soak up some North American culture and pursue the artistic lives they've always wanted. I wonder what is next for them?
That brings us up to speed. We've spent the last few days watching CNN, plotting goodwill construction missions, and trying to figure out how I can get out of doing my flights for this month - we wanna go to Texas!
Pictures from our road trip will follow, and Hawaii pictures will soon resume. Peace.