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Enjoyed an exceptionally warm September day today:
Brunch at Bouillons des Colonies with Sophie, textile shopping at St-Pierre’s market, coffee near Montmartre (she offered to make me a nifty new curtain for my bathroom: yay !), book and curio shopping at bouquinistes stalls along the Seine and white wine at George near the house… Now heading back out for outdoor dinner.
If only Parisian weather could be like that all year long.

… for me at least.

These are times of project wrap-ups, end-of-stay work presentations, last drinks with friends and last cozy nights with more-than-friends. I have practically shaved my head and started packing my luggage. Next weekend I fly off to Bangkok for a couple days: not so much for relaxation as for a very necessary transitional break before resuming six months of intensive studying in Paris. Vacation time is over. Not that it was exactly vacation to begin with, but what’s ahead is sure to make this ending Summer feel like a slice of paradise in comparison.

Actually, I am not dreading return as much as I thought I would. I know those six months aren’t gonna be much fun, but the mere fact that they have a specific timeframe and the knowledge that I’ll be done at the end of March, helps make it all feel like a sort of extended vacation to Paris. And Paris is much more enjoyable if you feel you are visiting than if you actually live there. Parisian life is a different form of fun that only appeals to me, given the certainty that it won’t last: fancy dinners out, cozy wine-sipping evenings at home, opera season, art exhibits, cocktail party crashing, overwhelmingly beautiful architecture on every corner, drunken bar-counter philosophical debates… All so typically Parisian, overly sophisticated fun… that after a while makes you yearn for simpler, more natural ways of having a good time. Which is when I will be about done with my current academic pursuits and will gladly move onto another period of my life, presumably far from Paris, without regret or bitterness. So, timing is perfect, it appears.

Plans for next year are still deliberately very vague. Much less definite as they were at the beginning of this Summer. I no longer know whether a Ph.D. is the necessary path to what I later want to achieve, in fact, maybe university research altogether, isn’t. Or perhaps it is my field of research that needs revising. Throw in a couple very tempting offers, brought over to me lately, that I would be a fool not to at least consider…

Part of my Summer here was coloured by the fact that college friends I hadn’t seen much in ages, now work and live in Tokyo. Hanging out with them coincidentally reminded me of an essential conclusion of those years, that I might have lost sight of otherwise: The fact you have the abilities to do something doesn’t mean you should, and definitely doesn’t mean it will make you happier. Back then, I once did the mistake of picking what most people seemed to hold as a universally enviable life/career path, only to quickly realize that most people’s idea of happiness in life probably didn’t match mine and therefore neither did their conception of how to achieve it.

Things I officially cannot — or shouldn’t be able to — do at work without my magic magnetic ID card:

  • Walk past security in the lobby.
  • Get on the elevator to my floor.
  • Go to the bathroom after 7pm.
  • Walk in or out of my office after 9pm
  • Access the building’s gym.
  • Access the lab room and play with my little robot friends.
  • Access the lab room and play Wii Tennis on the lab’s 20 mile-wide plasma screen.

Damn you Big Brother…

Because Big in Japan is so 1995, I am proud to announce that I am now also officially Big in Estonia. Secondary to my being featured in this month’s issue of arvutimaailm, a computer magazine so big in Estonia, it doesn’t even bother putting its content on the internets.

The article is signed by Elver Loho and features, as far as I can tell, some collected ramblings of mine on miscellaneous items of computer security and spam, as well as a scarily huge photograph, that must by now adorn the wall of every single Russian mafia hitman east of the Volga. My command of Estonian being unfortunately very low, I can only assume the article bears no reference to my habit of drinking a bowl of fresh kitten blood every night before sleep. I will try and post the PDF here, but need to make sure it’s ok first (and also get the final version, as I only have a working layout).

Which reminds me there’s been lately a couple articles, newspaper columns and books bearing mention of my name and/or one of my miscellaneous ongoing evil plans. Unfortunately, I have been pretty bad at collecting clippings for my mom’s trophy wall and haven’t really kept count, but I still wanted to recommend Maria Langer’s book, since she was so kind as to send me a personal copy (long, very long ago now… sorry Maria…).

Friday night’s Birthday Party was brilliant indeed.

Even though I am still here for another couple weeks, it had a certain feeling of grand season finale: what with the improbable juxtaposition of characters plucked from miscellaneous episodes of my life: past, current and hopefully future.

The mood and settings weren’t unlike the last time we had a party at Cozmo’s, in a good way. This time around: no drunken ex-girlfriend discussing the size of my manhood with friends, but lots of friends and friends-of-friends having a good time and mingling across groups, much drunken DJing with Atsushi and Ian (escaped from Sapporo for the weekend), unexpected gifts and free drinks pouring on me ceaselessly and, most of all, Hako clad in her geisha kimono bouncing around to the music, being her usual upliftingly cute self…

A very drunk subgroup essentially made of Ian, Deny, Rie and myself then headed out for Shibuya’s very own no-name bar (aka the Chandeliers Bar, aka the Red Room etc) whence the merriness kept on going until (very) late, although we shall keep the late remainders of that evening under an opaque veil of virginal mystery.

Expectedly, the following Saturday was a bit more low-key. Movies huddled on a bed most of [what was left of] the day. Hawaiian burger lunch/dinner in Shibuya. Fruity cocktails in Harajuku. Early sleep at home.

Sunday afternoon was both Saeko’s and Etsuko’s birthday party, as well as the day of my own actual birthday. All duly celebrated in much fancy wine-drinking and buffet-eating at a gorgeous floating restaurant in Shinagawa. Some of us then went for tea and dessert nearby and I finally left to attend my own birthday dinner in a more intimate settings.

I had purposely kept my evening very mellow and was just planning to meet Rie at Araku for a couple drinks around 9pm. Noticing how unusually busy the place was for a Sunday evening, we realized that day was Golden Gai Festa: 5,000 yens would get you a pass that’d let you get into most of the tiny Golden Gai hole-in-the-wall bars with no seating charge and one drink free. Additionally, you could ask for your card to be stamped at each place and get some sort of reward upon collecting all 30-some stamps (presumably a very fresh wet towel to alleviate next day’s massive hangover). The festa had officially begun at 1pm and by evening, a lot of people were actually already on their way home. With only three hours left to go, we still decided to give it a go, figuring it was as good a way to cap the day as any other…

We didn’t regret. It was the best bar fun we’d had in a long time. Everybody was friendly and having a good time: a great mix of ages, styles and interests… We got to see a dozen such tiny bars with their peculiar themes and strange decoration before finishing the night at Albatross‘ Golden Gai branch: same cool people and cozy atmosphere, marginally more seating space (say, 10 people instead of 6)…

The rest of the week was predictably spent recovering and catching up with work. Still managed a couple drinks with Sandy in the middle of Thursday’s wild thunderstorms, discussing relationships, God and viruses… Also met up with the lovely M. yesterday, just long enough to learn that her favourite way of procrastinating at the office involves talking dirty to her coworkers, all the while pondering what “only 60% of what he wanted” could mean exactly, in the context of an overeager Italian suitor’s love nest…

Unfortunately gotta do some work-related stuff all day tomorrow, so no big plans this weekend. As of now.