Archive for Tokyo

Dirty Laundry and the Writing Routine

Posted in lifehacking, Tokyo, writing with tags , , , on December 4, 2010 by katekanno

If you’d have asked me five years ago, whether I could be happy back in Japan, I would have laughed. When I returned to the U.S. after thirteen years here, I’d had it with the crowds, and a school system that liked to treat foreign teachers like talking dogs rather than professionals. Well, other than the talking dog part — I’m  now at a university where I am treated as an adult — I’ve discovered there’s a lot less harm in a few grouchy, hung over salarymen than some hopped up douchebag in a BMW trying to cut me off on the 405.

There’s also something about living in a big, abrasive city that perks up the synapses. Having to jostle through crowds and hang up my own laundry rather than throwing it in a dryer, and separating garbage under a Byzantine recycling system, has had some positive side effects on my motivation to write.

I’ve even been alternating chores with writing.  One becomes a reward for the other, but I don’t ever try to do either  all at once.  I’ll write for an hour, then fold the laundry, and so far both are getting done.

I was wondering how others might balance their household chores and other errands with their writing routines.  Any tricks to psyche yourself out and remove the guilt for having left the dishes in the sink?

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Gone, but er…not gone

Posted in blogging, genre fiction, Kyoto, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by katekanno

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve posted. Bikes were ridden, temples were visited, and even a few kilos were lost, which has been great for the arthritis.

Yes, two months ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my left hip. Oh, joy. Apparently, it was advanced enough for the doctor to recommend replacement, but I decided that to do so in my early forties would be silly, especially as I really wasn’t in enough pain to even warrant aspirin.

My father had his knee replaced a few years back, so there’s probably a gene or two to be blamed; however, osteoarthritis is near epidemic among those who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Not enough Vitamin D, but rather than turning into sulky vampires with abominable dialogue and cement coiffed hair, we just need new joints every now and then. Yeesh.

Anyway, took the alternative route. Traded jogging for cycling, lost several pounds (not hard in Japan where you can get healthy food even at a 7-11), and now other than the occasional bout of night aches, I’m back to relative normalcy.

Back in Tokyo and the writing is going well. Still waiting to hear back on that story that was in the running awhile back, but have sent out several others. Will be going to the Japan Writers’ Conference in a few weeks, which I’m really looking forward to, and was asked to write an essay for Sequart’s book on Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan. A few years ago (under real-non-aspiring-genre-writer-name) I wrote one for their anthology on the Legion of Superheroes, so I’m darned excited to do another one.

And without further kvetching about joint pain…here are some pics of Kyoto.

How was your summer? Early fall?

On books and pretending to have read them.

Posted in blogging, books, education, ill effects of computers, memory, shyness, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2010 by katekanno

I’ve always been inarticulate, particularly in groups when the social anxiety ramps up.  I have a tendency to lock onto some obscure, often not very meaningful detail, and wax incomprehensible. Summarizing is not a strong suit, and  I cannot, for the life of me, exude an air of mastery over anything so much as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Yet, what baffled me when I returned to the States five years ago, was how much that skill, online or off,  has usurped genuine knowledge. There seemed to be more value placed on knowing about something, more so if that thing could be dismissed with a clever reference to theory or more appallingly,  a wikipedia link.

Before the internet we called that jousting with a trashcan and a garden hoe.

Even worse is that it now gets the nod from self-help manuals like Pierre Bayard’s “How to Talk About Books that You Haven’t Read,” which Tracy Seeley, a vanguard in the slow reading movement, sees as a more sinister sign of our fraying focus.


And it’s phony as all get up, too.

I’m the first to admit that I’m as insecure  as the next person, but I’d prefer to use that anxiety as a guide. What haven’t I read? Where am I woefully ignorant?  And then I’ll go out and pick up a book, try to gain at least a meager grasp over what I know I don’t know.  It’s not a very efficient system, a little too random, but more often than not the serendipity pays off in ways that I would hope are more creative than the simple art of name dropping.

Hibernation over, hopefully…

Posted in blogging, lifehacking, Tokyo, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2010 by katekanno

It’s been a long three months since I’ve posted. Getting re-acquainted with Tokyo a new job, as well as a few writing projects, have been part of it.  The other has been our new internet situation.

When we moved into our apartment, we had trouble accessing our WiFi. We fussed and moaned for a few days, and then realized —  wow! — We were so much happier without it.

I’ve been more focused than I’ve been in years, and have not only completed two drafts of my first professional script, but three short stories of which I’m truly proud. I’ve sent them off, received one very hopeful rejection email, and am happily waiting for the rest to circulate back through the ether.

I’ve finally, finally reached that point where writing is a happy compulsion. I knew it was there; it just needed one tiny inconvenience to nudge it awake — in this case it meant having to carry my laptop to the kitchen and hook it up to a LAN cable.  The old stand and surf also has an added benefit of making me more focused about what I’m looking for online.

Other people have more control over their online life. I didn’t.  And when you don’t have control, particularly in cases of technology, it’s sometimes best to downgrade. Throw a shoe in the loom, replace that microwave with a conventional oven. The food’s still there. It’s just better.

Tangent Universes or Thomassons トマソン

Posted in Art, blogging, books, Discoveries, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2010 by katekanno

Ever suspect that a space in your everyday surroundings is the result of a failed teleportation test? A Philadelphia experiment involving office buildings and old movie theaters rather than human guinea pigs?

In Japan, they’re called thomassons, named by artist Genpei Hasegawa after a hitter for the Yomiuri Giants who could well…no longer hit. As anyone who’s spent time here knows, rapid postwar development and politicians’ love of public works projects has turned the country into an industrialized Winchester house full of half-built structures, stairways to nowhere, and water pipes jutting mysteriously out of telephone poles.

Thomassons are any human built space that has lost its use, but remains part of the structure that has taken its place.  Coming across one is mysterious and almost thrilling: Imagine you were suddenly able to see a sign for Platform 9 3/4 in Paddington station, and you’ll have an idea.

Now back in Japan with my trusty camera, I thought I’d follow up on that lost column and have some fun in the process. I’m in a rural area, and some of these photos don’t necessarily fit the definition of a thomasson, but they’re close enough.

I found this next to a rice paddy. A board jammed into a metal grate, almost as if it had teleported from some Home Depot of the future and gotten stuck. That someone would actually saw into the metal grate to insert the board seems the less likely alternative.

And this Tardis-like silo has a thoroughly modern door on its second story, but no stairs, not even a ladder. Who goes in? Who leaves? Who bumps her head or breaks his leg on the way out?

I’ll continue to update the blog as I find them.

Also, Hasegawa’s book HYPERART: THOMASSON  is finally getting an English translation.