My birthday party was spent at a snack bar owned by a client. No, not like in America. A snack bar is kind of like an upscale hostess bar sans the seediness and with very expensive booze. Thankfully it don’t take much to get me into drunken salariman mode. Sang some karaoke, had my ciggies lit by the hostess, talked an odd mixture of Japanese and English with some Spanish (long story there). Watched a large group of piss drunk salarimen sing an odd mixture of nationalistic songs from the WWII era and old anime themes. The juxtaposition of a naval sea shanty about working hard for the Empire followed by the Gatchaman theme was particularly striking. Maybe it was revenge for when I sang a duet with the owner of “My Heart Will Go On”.

Yeah, I don’t give a shit. It was a blast. I’d go more often, but dayum, it’s like 10 bucks for a beer or Mizuwari. I’m the big 3-0 now. It gives one a moment for reflection. I’ve been thinking of how I’m not meeting some of the goals I came here to meet. I’m still nowhere near level-1 certifiable in Japanese, and I think even level-2 is out of reach if I were to take the test right now. My speaking skills are still too damn weak. Goodness knows my cognitive abilities in acquisition are going to start declining pretty soon. I haven’t noticed much slumping yet, but then I was late to mature intellectually. In any case I’m going to have to focus my mental energies more. I’ve been dissipated for too long. I mean seriously, taking up Speed-Cubing at my age, innate spatial inability and personality? It seems like it would just mean a lot of smashed Rubik’s Cubes. Oh well, I still have crosswords for when I want to play one-person games.

So on that note, it hit me. November is NaNoWriMo. Since I can’t get a novel finished for the life of me (hell, I can’t even start the bulk of ’em), but I can finish articles and shit like my thesis so long as there’s a deadline hovering over my head, I figure a good artificial deadline is what I need to get me going and prove to myself I can finish one. If I can do one, then I can do others. Then another life goal will be out of the way (odd that some of the life goals I did before even thinking about life goals, namely writing and acting in a short film). I’m pretty convinced I’m going to give it a shot.

Also as a final note, today I sat down to read the first couple chapters of Shusaku Endo’s “Silence”. I ended up finishing the book almost four hours later. Probably the most Catholic novel I’ve ever read, up there with “A Canticle For Liebowitz”, though perhaps much more inwardly turned into the life of the believer. There are books that stir the admitted God-shaped hole in this reluctant atheist’s life and looking at the character of Kichijiro, with his fervent faith, yet weak character, I am as struck as he by those who willingly and calmly die for what they believe in, wishing for myself that strength and inner light. In less “enlightened” times, perhaps I would have made that excellent Jesuit that the Fathers pronounced me as a boy. What I’ve got now and seeing those around me… well it’s cold comfort indeed.