Time for a few changes round here

A bit short on the news front lately, I know… And not likely to get any better soon. In fact, consider this the official seasonal warning about the usual 3-week writing slump to be followed by lengthy catch-up, once I’m done strangling the manes of Mssrs. Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen with my bare hands, once and for all.

But before we dim the light, turn off the gas and put this page in energy-saving mode for the rest of the month, it’s time for a bit of ego rambling and life status update, for the benefit of the three people (cat and genetically-invested relatives included) who give a damn.

Yes, you may have noticed: next Friday is that day again, and thus, this year’s edition of Existential Week is under way.

Please come back: no longwinded self-serving cheese and whine party, this time around. To tell the truth, we were tittering on the edge for a few days, but doubled the meds, resumed intraveinous vodka doses in the morning… and now the sun is shining and the future bright again! [insert Absolut Zoloft sponsor message here]

What you will get though, is a world-premiere announcement of Dr Dave’s Life Projects for the Fall 2005 Season: hang on to your mouse, it’s earth-shattering stuff we got here. Particularly if you are my mom and wondering if I am still attending seminary or been ordained yet.

OK, first, gotta break the bad news to my affectionate otaku readership (I know you exist, I can smell you all the way here):

Dr Dave is leaving Japan!

Yep, no kidding. Honto-da. Jôdan ja-nai. Sayonara Bai Bai Kin.

I know I have been kinda shuffling on the issue ever since, oh, the day I set foot in Japan… but this time, it’s for real: I shall shortly be buying my one-way ticket out, a whooping two months in advance. Which, if you know me and how many billion bucks I have wasted in the past by always buying last minute tickets, has to mean I’m decided.

Reasons are multiple: brain needs airing, World needs checking on, slowly-building language frustration needs releasing (I’ve caught myself, mumbling English on my own, way too often, recently). Although the deciding factor wasn’t actually much of my own (cf. next news item).

Of course, I am a bit sad at the prospect that I might be missing the Great Kanto Earthquake, that I will no longer be able to go shopping on a whim at 3 in the morning for used lingerie… that and, you know, friends, life, love, kittens, meticulously accumulated collection of 1 yen coins and all the other valuable stuff I will leave behind… But this is not to say there is no plan for a triumphal return, in a not-so-distant future: I certainly haven’t spent endless hours over the past three years, torturing myself with this poor excuse for a language, just so I could pick up lonely Japanese tourists in Piccadilly (well, not only for that). If my calculations are accurate, taking in account sinking natality, demographic decline, godzilla-stomping incidents and yearly mochi casualties, by the time I come back, there should be roughly three people under the age of 60 living in all of Japan: with a bit of luck, one of them will be cute.

Estimated departure date is currently set for very early December, as I wisely planned to take the JLPT Level 3, on the 4th of that month (just when I’m leaving: awesome timing, I know). In fact, it may be much sooner depending on circumstances, but don’t start asking for my stereo just yet: I won’t even start packing until I return from next month’s blitz-trip to Europe.

As for exact destination: your guess is as good as mine. Be sure you’ll be the first to know when I do…

Initial plans involved the South American continent, cheap caipirinha and wide expanses of silky white sand under a perpetually warm tropical sky: unfortunate choices and education priorities seem to point at a much less exciting one-year stay on the European continent…

Which brings us to the second news item:

Dr Dave is finally getting an education!

Before I go any further, and I’ve been meaning to do that for a while now, I need to come clean on one thing:

Despite my now ubiquitous and venerable “dr” Dave moniker (so old I got it before I even started trolling the Internets, if you can believe that), the only Doctorate degree I have ever held is in Curse Removal & Sexual Healing Potions, and was dispensed by Kinshasa’s University of Black Magic: an institution still lacking complete recognition in the mainstream academia circuit.

While I’m at it, and speaking as the lucky offspring of two fine perpetrators of the Hippocratic art: those people who do have a Ph. D. and insist on prepending a “Doctor” in front of their name are utter morons.

Unless you can save my life, practice open-heart surgery or prescribe flu medications, leave that fucking title alone and stick with a “Ph.D” at the end, if you must really let the world know how edumacated you are.

That being said, I didn’t exactly stop school at age 5 to go work the coal mines: in fact, I used up way too many years intensely studying a rather wide variety of subjects ranging from Mechanical Engineering and Western Philosophy all the way to Political Science, as well as, in recent times, Japanese flower arrangement Language. I do indeed suffer from what could be qualified as massive attention disorder on a life-impacting scale.

One day, after sitting down and ingesting massive quantities of Ritalin washed down with healthy amounts of Gin, I finally decided it was time to stick with one study, at least long enough to graduate, perhaps to resume later on the pursuit of my initial lifelong career choice (astronaut or princess, depending on the pay). As you may have noticed from my recurrent bouts of cursing at various Mathematics and Physics historical figures, these are the two majors I went with: based on the asinine notion that I had already done most of the learning curve there and had hardly any left to go. A positive aspect unfortunately wholly annihilated by the fact that I had come to loath these topics with a passion, long before I even resumed studying them. The plan was to get these under my belt, followed by a transition year into a subject more to my liking, followed by either a complete disinterest in the pursuit of further academic recognition, or some sort of post-graduate meanderings in the wonderful and fascinating world of Cognitive Sciences.

Well, we are nearing that crossroad, and with it, a necessary change in lifestyle:

Until now, the upside of having covered practically all the curriculum in previous lives, was the special derogation I obtained, entitling me to be signed up as a full-time student in a regular university, all the while goofing around on the other side of the planet, on the condition that I write a few extra papers and went to pass my exams like a good little boy every year (serious exams too, if I may say, compared to your typical walk-in-the-park US grading system). I very much liked it like that and I was sorta hoping I could keep doing it for one more year. Which is exactly what I told them when the point came up recently. That and the fact I’d rather go collect magic beans on the beaches of Brazil, than sit in front of a blackboard scratching my ass for the next seven months. To which they laughed heartily. Then told me to get my ass on campus for next semester or go see elsewhere if DeVry had discounts on brain surgery degrees over the internet.

At first, the perspective of losing my freedom to travel and be shackled to a boring class schedule, was rather anti-climactic. But on further reflection, I realized it merely meant I was officially regaining my status as full-time slacker student… A status that I have never had, in fact… Seeing how my past experience consisted of either attending psychotic Engineering school that bore absolutely no ressemblance to leisurely college life… or being a part-time off-campus student with a full-time job and a professional life that left barely enough time to attend lectures and write papers, let alone slack around.

No regrets though: I did get all the usual perks one usually associates with “College Life”, minus the sloppy inexperienced sex with sorority girls and awkward homo-erotic bonding with dorm-mates around kegs of cat-piss repackaged as beer.

Yet, I am kinda looking forward to leading the student life for a while. Especially the sort that consists of travelling around European cities on most week-ends, with nothing to worry about, beside turning papers on time once a month, paying basic life-expenses with a part-time job and waiting for the year to be over…

While I am currently trying to figure out which university I will be attending (indeed a bit late to start inquire), the default choice would be Paris, where I was signed up for the past two years.

France being a communist dictatorship, they have free education: something like $100 a year will get you tuitions and complete health insurance coverage (although, you have to stand up every morning to sing the international socialist anthem while facing a portrait of Lenin). Guess that leaves a lot of that student loan money to spend on pot.

Obvious downside of this, is that you have to live in Paris for nearly a year. I could do without that: it sure is a beautiful city and I have many friends I will be happy to see again there, but it’s best left for stays of three weeks at a time. Unfortunately, getting a transfer to Spain or Germany is unlikely to happen in time for this semester (and while some small university town near the Mediterranean sea sounds awesome, my master of modern Greek just isn’t what it used to be). The pain could probably be tempered by using Paris as a base for regular bum-trips across Europe… Something I used to do quite a lot the last time I was a student there, and wouldn’t mind doing again.

In the meantime, I still have a few weeks to try and sample every single sort of ramen available throughout Japan. I may need to start now…

8 comments

  1. Oh no!!! I’m so sad to hear you’re leaving! Actually, I’m coming up on the end of three years here too (well, okay, technically it’ll be a few months yet) and am holding that great “what should I do, what should I do” debate with myself.

    Stay or go, stay or go? I really want to stay, but like you said, sometimes I wonder what’s going on “in the real world”, where I’m going with my life, and what kind of future – really – can actually be had here.

    I’m sad to hear you’re going, but I can appreciate everything you mentioned that goes into making that decision. I hope I’ll be able to reach a conclusion one way or another as you did in a few months when my current visa runs out.

    Best of luck and ganbatte!! I know you can pass 3kyu!!! Now if I only I could get my head out of my arse and mail in the damn application myself! the september 5th deadline is whipping around the corner!!

    P.S. If you ever find out what to do with the play money that is the mountainous pile of ichi en coins all us foreigners have stashed away in our little cubbyhole apartments do let me know. My collection is threatening to engulf my bedroom and swallow me whole in a big pile of inexplicably-weighing-next-to-nothing-shiny-ness. (^_^)v

  2. Everybody:

    Thanks for the kind words! And whether you live in Japan, Colombia or elsewhere: do not despair, chances are we will manage to hook up at one point or another…

    neuro: thanks a lot for the offer. As for work: I was planning to do the French student thing and flip burgers or work an unpaid internship serving coffee and buying donuts…
    Alright, coming to think of it, maybe I should talk to your boss 😉

    michel Спасибо… but I won’t be crossing the border just right now… gimme a few more months to gather my microfilms and I’ll be right there…

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