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returning; Zen archer on the train; lit-up bamboo; "and so this is christmas" - Zelda's exercise Dec 9

East of Kyoto, on the shinkansen, against the dark clouds just for a minute the ghost of a segment of rainbow, gone by the time I grab my Z to write this down.

On the slow train to Narita (having missed that the express is reservation-only). Across from me a while back, guy with a Japanese bow, wrapped in cloth, quiver with tasseled ropes, older guy maybe 60ish, reading a thin book whose title began with the kanji for "bow" and "way" (tao). Next to him, one of the most cretinous-looking men I've seen in japan, unshaven, a dirty look about him, sucking his teeth, shabby shoes with no socks, arms crossed, disdainful of all around him. The archer carefully maneuvering his bow through the subway-hanger-straps (this is subway-style car, not like the one I rode in from the airport - called a "rapid" but seems to run as a local, wakarimasen?) This movie presented for my entertainment by It. Yes, It - bringing you the Universe for thirteen billion years, just like this.

On the plane. In airport shops, found little scroll-print of "thunder and wind" gods - Fujin - bought for Kyoshi Kate, one for me.

Yesterday. headed out to Kyoto. Had wanted to see a ceremony at Horin-ji, where they brinig old sewing needles and stick them in the "devil's tongue" (and I learned last night at dinner that "devil's tongue" is a dish made with a potato-like vegetable - the same? Don't know.) Looked on the map - ah, Horin-ji is Daruma-dera, previously visited. Great. So I head out there.

Nada. Must be two Horin-ji in Kyoto. (Probably a"Horin-ji" and a "Hourin-ji", just to mess with us.) But I got to see the garden there in fall colors, and the HUGE daifuku(?) Daruma with the tags I saw last time off. Bought a daruma to motivate me on the book. (Made use of horrid Nihongo to ask if the had any blank-eye ones, as the first I saw had eyes filled in - "Daruma, arimasu ka, shiro?" pointing at the eyes. But got the job done.)

Then back over to Arashiyama, where they've started a new winter festivities event, lighting up the bamboo forest with colored lights. Crowded - at peak, crazy, rush-hour-train crowd density. Walk around street festival for a while,,bought a cute little Jizo figurine (a set where he has a dog companion for some inexplicable reason), saw the bamboo. Came back to Shinsaibashi, out to Kyobashi to meet Dave for dinner, along with his lady friend and his language-friend Hitomi. Hitomi helped *enormously* with figuring out ordering food for me at the izakaya where we ended up. Then home (hmm, I thought of the hotel in Shinsaibashi as "home"? That's interesting), packed, slept, got up, checked out, subway to shikansen to the so-called "rapid" to Naita airport to Northwest Airlines BWI to a ride home (the big home) from Rachel, if all goes as planned...

Good travel karma, I've got an empty seat next to me, room to stretch out a bit. Namu Jizo Bosatsu, guardian of travelers. (Told the story of the Jizo/Ksitigarbha print hanging on my wall all these years to Dave and Hitomi last night.)

Oh, and another thing. Near the JR Saga-Arishiyama station, a temple (think I got some photos of it) were a grandmother and kids here making little piles of stones. I've heard a myth about Jizo and the souls of children and piling up stones but did not know there was a ritual, which this seemed to be. So much to see and learn!

Morning, closing in on noon (Baltimore time) now. Slept a bit, ate ok, not a bad flight. When I couldn't sleep, thought of women, several different women I have known...I think was Shaw who wrote that he could not remember a time when his mind did not turn to thoughts of women. Yeah, like that.

Thoughts of Kathy/Kathleen and Jill, and the whatever-it-is I've got going on with them...and the potential whatever-it-is with Chris...memories of time with Liz in Japan in the spring...thoughts about Amanda, whom I hope to see again...lamentatons about Cathy....thoughts about Jackie, the shattering of the relationship with whom was a big factor in sending me to Japan the first time and changing everything. (And here's a thing: forgotten in the pocket of my Seido blazer, photos that Robin (I think) had given me back in June, when I got back from black belt clinic directly to Zelda's, and had pocketed without thought - photos of me and Jackie from years ago. An irony or something to find them in my pocket in Japan.) And thoughts of other women as well. So it goes.

Wrote some more towards potential story/novel, let's give it a tentative title, oh, say, "For a Friend", since this concept of friendship of different types is going to be at the heart of it. Maybe I'll read it at Zelda's tonight.

Zelda's Inferno exercise, 12/9: use a John Lennon song refrain in a freewrite

and so this is christmas, just returning from recorded carols in the shotengai and festively lit bamboo to my neighbors houses lit up, mine the only one on the block not yet festive, some christmas movie (one of the Tim Allan "Santa Clause" flicks) on the plane ride back, silent on the screen in the front of the economy cabin as I read Kerouac's journals and write in my own

and so this is christmas, and what will I do? first one in a couple years without a girl for the holidays, no one to buy special gift, no new years date...oh, poor poor pitiful me, whine whine whine. Still, that is holiday tradition isn't it? that contrast between the hollywood disney version and real life

and so this is christmas, and what does that mean to me? disguised version of midwinter's night, longest night shortest day, cusp of yin turning back to yang, sun return. jesus is not the reason for the season, the solstice is the reason for the season!

and so this is christmas, closing in on the end of the year, and what have you done? accomplished what you set out to? some things yes, some no - as always. loved and lost and wrote and traveled and reveled and cried and laughed and read and wrote some more, and drank and screwed and farted around and wandered lonely as clouds and water and so on like that

and so this is christmas, and I remember - vaguely - what that meant to me when I Beleived, in Jesus or in Santa Claus, which do I mean? not sure. putting the baby in the nativity scene on christmas morning, sitting on the mall santa's lap, saying prayers, leaving cookies out christmas night - all seems one and a piece now.

my mom always used to say - still says - that Santa is real, not in the guy-at-the-north-pole sense but as a symbol of people's feelings and thoughts, a reality of experience if not an objective one. More and more I feel the same way about god.

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