The ’90s and where we are today.

CNN has created a fantastic program that explores each decade through a number of episodes that drills on on specific aspects that occurred. As I’m currently a bachelor I now have time to watch things that interest me and I finally made it to the ’90s which interests me the most as it is when I came of age. I graduated high school in 95 so the music especially brings back a lot of memories.

As is apparent from this blog I have a fascination with time. The episode that focused on music spoke of Nirvana, NWA, Doctor Dre, Snoop Dog and so on. They really explained all the societal aspects that made these artists a success. This was all very interesting but the thought I had when watching all of those young people dance is what has happened to them?

In the ’90s they were dancing, were cool, were in love with N’Sync and so on. Well, we’re now over 40 years old and I imagine they’ve stopped dancing and all that youthful enthusiasm faded long ago. Those kids are my peers and to be honest I have no idea what they are up to except through the magic of Facebook. In high school you had an entire population of people the same age around you everyday and knew what was going on, what was popular and what the best music was. Well, that “being in touch” with society ended for me in 2001 when I want to Japan. My life took a huge turn. I spent 3 years in Japan, 2 in Vietnam and then moved to San Francisco which is one big adult playground. Seems that age is no longer that important and I couldn’t tell you the last time I spoke to a person between 20 – 25.

Through Facebook I can tell you what my peers are doing instead of dancing and being enthusiastic. They are posting about being nominated for the “Softball Mom” of the week and posting endless pictures of their kids. Some are getting divorced, some have decided they really like Jesus and others simply are becoming even more lost than before. I think that when we’re young we just assume life will have something special in store for us but as it turns out that isn’t the case for most, but year after year they get older and older.

One girl from my high school found out that she really liked the club scene when she turned 18. I saw her at a place called “The Edge” on The Ohio State campus back in 1996. She has been in love with the club scene ever since and even became a DJ. Well, we’re now 42 years old, I imagine it might be a bit difficult to keep up with the ‘cool kids’ when 50 is swiftly approaching. She is still DJing away but who ever heard of a 50 year old DJ?

I just saw that the CNN program came out with a series on the 2000s and you know what? I have absolutely no idea what went on during that decade except for 9/11. I came back to the USA in 2006 but was in my little cocoon of San Francisco. Then I got married and had kids. Time became a blur and I find it hard to believe it is 2019 already. I have no idea what went on in pop culture for this decade either as I mostly listen to music from the ’80s and ’90s or foreign music.

I did try to reconnect with high school by creating a class Facebook page and organize a 20 year reunion. For me it was not a desire to return to the past but rather re-read a previous chapter of my life and ended in 2001. What I learned is the majority of old classmates were not as enthusiastic about getting back together as I was. Sure I still have some old friends but only 1/3 of our high school class bothered to show up. Almost nobody posts on the high school class page. To me this was a big surprise as I thought there would be more interest.

I think that as we get older that youthful enthusiasm dies for most of us as it is scrubbed away by the monotony of daily life, going to a job and raising kids. Many do not want to remember the past or consider themselves to have ‘moved on.’ Well, nobody I grew up with has traveled as far and wide or has experienced all that I have so I remain perplexed as to why so many who didn’t go very far want to seem as though they’ve ‘moved on’ or are just too busy to reminisce about the past.

At 42, I’ve finally had my fill of the past and wanting to reconnect. I’ve had my fill of always wanting to return to Ohio or posting on the class page. It seems their lack of enthusiasm has spread to my own thinking. It was fun for a while but that fun has ended.

I’m now motivated again to learn new things, explore new music and especially learn about new technology. Luckily I have time in the summer to do this as my family is in Japan. Breaking out of routine is so refreshing and makes me feel alive again. The technology available such as virtual reality is amazing and I’ve got the time to find new foreign music mostly from Japan and China. I have no interest in the current pop music/rap and never linger for more than three seconds on that particular radio station.

I’ve continued to grow while many others from my hometown have not. My interests are not theirs and the conversation is dull. I do not feel old and feel it is through a way of thinking, traveling and doing things that interest both me and my kids that keep me young. I have no intention of turning into a boring, middle aged guy that complains about everything.

Ok, back to movies or reading The Tale of Genji.

Journal Entry 7.9.2019

The time is 9:50 PM on Tuesday July 9th, 2019. Tonight I shook myself out of my lethargy that tells me to take a nap or stay home and completed one more item from my ‘to-do’ list. I had learned of the Kabuki Springs & Spa from BaySpo that I picked up during the Cherry Blossom Festival. I was amazed that there was an onsen right here in San Francisco that I had been ignorant of during my 13 years of living here. My go to place has always been Archimedes Banya and although it is nice I prefer the Japanese style.

Due to the insane amount of work these two days after the Fourth of July holiday weekend my mind was in disarray. I could stay home, work out, go to karate or go to the spa. I chose the spa because it was on the list and I told myself I wouldn’t be a free man too much longer and wouldn’t have the chance. It is also Tuesday and there are days for men, days for women and Tuesday is co-ed but a bathing suit must be worn. So I made myself get in the car and go check it out.

It was a nice place and I feel very relaxed now. I will visit again but in lieu of the details I’d like to write about something that occurred to me in the steam bath. The steam when it first comes out creates a very thick cloud so that you cannot see the people at the other end. Slowly the water droplets dissipate and you can see everyone clear as day. Then you hear the clunking of the machinery and gurgling of heated water and the steam comes out in full force making the people disappear again. This made me think of the steam as a metaphor for the people that come and go in your life. You cannot see them at first, they slowly come into your life and you see each other clearly for a time. But as life goes on they slowly fade away until most of them are no longer seen and completely disappear. What a profound thought.

After the spa I went for dinner and through Google Maps went looking for a good ramen restaurant. There was one called Marufuku Ramen located in the Japanese shopping center so I went to check it out. There were tons of people waiting outside and I learned there was an hour wait even for one person as there was no bar area. This was much too long for even decent ramen so I decided to go to Izumi Kaiten Sushi instead. After dinner I took a very short stroll through the Japanese shopping center and my thoughts turned to Eiji.

Eiji was an older man I worked with at Japan Airlines. He liked his sake and I remember how much fun he would have during the Cherry Blossom Festival drinking with his buddies. I wrote about this in 2017 and 2018. It seems my thoughts always turn to Eiji when I’m alone on a summer night in Japantown. He passed away and I still find it hard to believe he is gone. I didn’t know him for most of my life, he was there everyday for two years and then like the other in the steam bath faded away and I’ll never see him again. I wonder where his spirit is now and I hope he is having a wonderful time at that Izakaya in the sky.

Well, it is now 10:08 PM and I must get to bed. Another busy day awaits tomorrow and before I know it I too will be head to Japan and this time alone will be over.

Renaissance Man

I’ve always wanted to be a renaissance man. This idea came about in college when I started studying languages. I was so enraptured by my study abroad in Toledo, Spain that it changed the course of my life. The history, the culture, a new language were things I had never experienced before and here I was getting them all at once.

I remember walking down the cobble stone streets thinking about the countless generations over two thousand years who had walked over the same stones or at least the same path. What those stones must have seen. If you go into the cathedral you’ll see paintings of one bishop after another that must easily stretch over 500 years. Ohio, where I’m from only became a state in 1803 and the oldest thing I can think of built by Europeans is German Village but that only came about in the mid-19th century. The absolute oldest place I can think of is Old Man’s Cave but those are just caves and I’m not sure if the Native Americans lived there or not.

But back to Toledo I remember hearing that in the church next to our dormitory they had knocked down a wall during renovations and discovered the room of a mosque. This fascinated me, to know that there were places hidden like this and so ancient that people don’t even know they are there. It is an inhabited archaeological treasure with many secrets yet to be revealed. I remember reading Don Quixote and he spoke of La Calle de Pescado which I walked everyday. In fact, I wanted to be like Don Quixote.

The superficial reader will just see him as a crazy old man but he wasn’t so crazy to me. Here was a man who lived the life we wanted to lead, be damned what the world said. Like the knight Amadis de Gaul he wanted to be strong, a scholar, chivalrous, brave and always seeking adventure. This is what I wanted for myself.

My first step was in learning languages and I had such a fantastic time learning Spanish I followed up with French and Spanish. I was on my way to becoming a Renaissance Man. I understood not only the language but the culture.

After graduation I went to Japan and this too was an adventure. I was happy that I was continuing on with my true passion and having adventures. Then it was Vietnam and then finally here to San Francisco where I’ve lived for the past 12 years.

At 42 I’ve realized that a lot of my old acquaintances have lost their zest for life, retreating into predictable patterns and just letting life take them where it will, which is pretty much the same day after day. I too fell into this pattern for a while but now that that I’m a bachelor for two months I have time to explore, to learn and to reflect.

Through technology I found that I have a large interest in investing. It is presented in a clean, easy to understand format and the amount of information once can easily read in just 15 minutes is remarkable. So I invested and my investments shot up!

It was in investing that I began to think about being a Renaissance Man again. I had not thought about it in a long time so I assessed my progress. For strength I’ve been in karate for almost three years now and the time has flown by. I’m proud of the progress my son and I have made and I have grown stronger over the past three years without realizing it until the last Fighter’s Cup. I wasn’t as nervous as I was before and I did a decent job. It is something most guys only attempt once but I’m not afraid of doing it year after year.

As for language I retain my Spanish pretty well and still have passable French. I do speak Japanese daily and am confident in my abilities. But I had not taken the time to notice that my language abilities is something I should be proud of in a long time. When I was younger my languages were a point of pride, something that strengthened my identity. But that feeling has long since faded and now it just *is* without any special feelings about it.

But with this time to reflect I should be pretty proud of myself. I have the languages, I have karate and now I have a sense of confidence in investing. I have a wonderful family, a great job and an incredible house. I had just not taken the time to reflect and be grateful for all of this until recently. I have become a Renaissance Man without realizing it.

To add to this feeling I also finally have time to read books. I just wrapped up a book on Kyrgyzstan and have started to re-read The Tale of Genji. This reinforces the intellectual side of what a Renaissance Man should be.

Again, at the age of 42 it seems men in particular lose zest for life and it takes a conscious effort to bring it back. I’ve found that zest with working out more than before, reading my books and learning new things. I guess that with kids all of this is just difficult since during the normal part of the year we have a demanding schedule and there just isn’t time to pay attention to all of these things. Therefore I’m very thankful for this time. But it takes discipline because the natural motivation that comes when you are young seems non-existent now. I was easily excited and motivated when younger but now would almost rather take a nap. But if I do that then I will make no progress and find it easy to fall into a slight depression. So I make myself get into the gym, go to karate and pick up that book.

I’ve always wanted to be a Renaissance Man and I just need to take the time to realize that is what I have become. At 42 it takes effort to continue learning, to continue exercising but now I’ve got momentum and don’t want it to subside. I do miss the interaction with other international people. It was such fun going out in a foreign city drinking beers with the guys and girls while we were all single and the night was full of things that could happen. I can still drink with the guys but the excitement of having the girls join us no longer is possible. So I focus my thoughts inward, in meditation, in study and self reflection. This is an ample substitute and creates a unique sense of fulfillment.

Well, that is all for now. I think I’ll either read more of my book or watch a movie on my list. Tomorrow I’m going to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk by myself to ride the scary rides I don’t get to when I’m with the family. Just because I’m 42 doesn’t mean I should just turn the world off and wallow in the fact that I’m no longer 19. Keep living and make the effort to do so. It keeps you young.

Check-in at 41

It is just after noon on Friday, May 24th 2019. This weekend is my birthday and while I have a few spare moments I wanted to get a post in while I’m still 41 years old.

This morning was busy responding to customers and I had one sales call. I then stopped by Great Clips to get a haircut – for a reason I’ll explain below – and grabbed sushi from Safeway. I then came home, showered, ate lunch and finished up a few more work items. The boss cut us loose at noon so the weekend has officially begun!

As for the haircut it seems there was a Giants employee in attendance during our karate presentation at the Cherry Blossom Festival. Last Monday I received an e-mail from the dojo that we had been invited to perform for Japanese Heritage Night at the ballpark! Now I usually just have my wife cut my hair in the garage but I had forgotten to request it yesterday and we do not have time today thus the trip to Great Clips. I wanted to look good because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’ll be performing Kumite No Kata Tsuke Uke and break a bat again. I’m very glad to break a bat because after watching video of the Cherry Blossom bat breaking I had accidentally grabbed the wrong bat! Thus the bat I now have in my office is one I didn’t break! This time I’ll be sure to grab the right one.

As for life at 41 I had a major change in switching jobs this year. The change was a great one but it meant I’ve been very busy bringing my portfolio up to speed and have been full throttle ever since last June when I made the switch. That, combined with the kids and our karate lessons has made the year fly by. I cannot believe were already at the end of May already and it seems as though I’m in some sort of time warp.

It is amazing how quickly time goes when you age and especially when you have kids. I’m at work, they come home and then I’m doing things with them and the days and months just slip away.

In previous years I had been highly engaged with my friends on Facebook and here in Pacifica. I never really understood why I didn’t get too much engagement back from my friends on Facebook but now I understand. As the kids grow up time becomes scarce. Facebook has also lost most of its allure for me and I find myself posting less and less.

As for friends here in Pacifica we used to have parties almost every other weekend. That has all but disappeared with the changes that come in life. The kids are busy thus we are busy. Also, some wives are spending more time in Japan which means less time to get together on weekends. Drinking has also lost its allure for me at 41. The disadvantages now outweigh the advantages and feeling good for an hour or two brings on three days of feeling down. I just don’t like the feeling anymore and so have all but stopped drinking except for when the rare party occurs.

My focus has been on the job, karate and kids with karate taking more and more time. We are now green belts with a black stripe and my youngest also joined. That means we should really be doing three classes: the kids class, the green belt and up class and weapons. This really takes a lot of energy to do so I haven’t been working out at all really. My weights in the garage are collecting dust and it stares me in the face every time I step into the garage. I’ll pick that back up however once my family goes to Japan for the summer and I have an abundance of free time. Free time just doesn’t exist during the normal part of the year.

So, that is really about it. Time is going quickly, I don’t see my friends as much, the job is busy and the years just fly by.