On Recent Travel, Reading, and War

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.” – Ulysses S. Grant

I am writing this in reverse chronological order. I took a trip to Japan two weeks ago and have photos to share but there are other developments – more important ones – that must come first. I have declared war. What drives a relatively passive person to pick up arms and commit to violence? Waking up after a long weekend of moving into a new apartment – before the sun rises, 4:30 a.m. on Monday, ready to Uber to the airport for work – at this ungodly hour, in a fragile state of exhaustion and unfamiliarity with one’s surroundings, all it takes to drive a peaceful man to madness is the sight of a cockroach on the bed he woke from only minutes ago. Upon my return to the nation’s capital, I will bring to the insect world fury and violence the likes of which they have never known. Never again will they view me as a petty human – one to be preyed upon for safe shelter and a place to propagate; no, in the annals of Columbia Heights Cockroach Civilization I will be remembered as the reaper – a deity of suffering, unnamed, akin to Voldemort or Sauron, known simply as an inescapable darkness. The mere thought of me will cause roaches to shudder for generations to come. 


It has been a while since I felt motivated to write. My (now former) apartment is too dark and D.C. is too hot to sit down and use my brain for any extended period of time. The reason I return to the quotation mark is simply that I could not take one more call from my Agent/Promoter/Dad about how my rabid fanbase is growing weary in this severe content drought. Consider your voices heard. 

Blogger’s arrogance aside, I actually returned to share some of my favorite photos from my recent trip to Japan as well as stories of what it feels like to be tall(ish) for the first time in my life. Attending a concert is the only thing left on my “must-do” list for Japan – to finally understand what you tree-like folk experience when you can see the stage without jumping – I cannot imagine. There were even times I found myself ducking; the Western World was built for people taller than me. The practice of dipping below low hanging objects was as foreign as the language. 

To sum up my experience, the entire trip was a highlight – picking out my favorite aspects of it would surely not do the whole adventure justice. I ate the best food I have ever tasted, we go-carted through the streets of Tokyo, saw some of the most beautiful gardens and temples on Earth – and that is just the shortlist. 

Before I write an hour by hour recap of the trip I figure it is better to get right into some of my favorite photos: 

japan11-2

This is arguably my favorite photo that I have ever taken. The architecture, the worker using primitive tools for a modern day job, the color of the water –  top to bottom this photo brings out everything I appreciated about my short trip to the other side of the world in one frame. I have not settled on a final edit but it the best I could do with my limited skills to bring out what I felt like being on the other side of this pond.DSC_0573

There were gardens I could spend entire days in. This was one of them – at the imperial palace in Tokyo, hard to imagine this exists in the center of the biggest metro area on earth. DSC_0548

The best photo from the trip – I didn’t even take this one, Ryan did with my camera. All I did was crop it and clear it up. This will without a doubt be blown up and framed in my home forever. DSC_0464

It was under this roof that the Tokugawa shogunate started, and under the same roof that the shogunate ended – A period of more than 250 years. DSC_0304

One of the few statues we saw. I would love to know what the stone tablet to the left says…DSC_0290

Again, primitive solutions to modern problems – this one of the oldest trees in all of Japan (!) – each and every branch is being held up by big ole pieces of lumber. I had a hard time capturing the scale of this tree in a zoomed out photo so I opted to include this one as it relays to me the feeling that from afar this single massive tree looks like an entire forest. DSC_0169

Loved this photo for no particular reason. DSC_0060

Shibuya crossing – the busiest intersection in the world. One million people walk through this intersection every single day. DSC_0025

We were lucky enough to be stopped by a traditional wedding taking place at a beautiful temple on our first day in the country. Platform shoes AND socks with sandals in a single photo – what a blessing to see something so rare. DSC_0001

Finally, the view from our hotel balcony. I watched the sun rise to this view every morning.

As a final note, all photos that actually include me were taken on a disposable camera that I have yet to develop. Here’s to hoping at least one of them is remotely nice. Maybe I will share those in the future, depends how I look…

To bring things back down to reality (I over-edited my photos, I know, but it is impossible to capture exactly how GREEN the nature is over there), it would not be a vacation to the other side of the planet without some serious jet-lag. The first four days of the trip I woke up around 3am without any hope of falling back to sleep. The first day I slept past 530 was the second last day of the trip, right in time for me to go home and screw everything up again. In waking at such ungodly hours however, I found myself with plenty of time to read a beast of a book I have been trying to get through for over a year now. The Once and Future King by T.H. White has to be the newest addition to my list of all-time favorite stories and I couldn’t be happier to have read it in such a wonderful place. White’s novel is a retelling of the tale of King Arthur – from his childhood through the knights of the round table and beyond. I put this book down after about 150 pages when I moved to DC and as a last minute addition to my luggage pulled it off the shelf. It is hard to describe what makes this version of the over-told story so special. T.H. White reimagines the classic tale with characters the reader knows and loves by the end. There are only a few times in my life I laughed out at a book and even fewer times that a story made me truly sad – this one made me do both over and over again. I cannot recommend this book highly enough – even for those who generally shy away from fantasy.

10 thoughts on “On Recent Travel, Reading, and War

  1. Thank you for your most recent entry, Mark. Your pictures are beautiful. That must have been a magnificent place to experience. Thank you for sharing.
    Wow, you may even have a career in extermination in case your other gig doesn’t work out!
    It was great to read your blog! The Seitz family

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark, I didn’t know you were so gifted as an author and photographer, well done on both! I have never had an interest in visiting Japan but you have piqued my interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Of all the photos I like the “old” tree being supported by other trees that gave their life to keep the sprawling tree alive, growing and surviving for generations. There is definitely some symbolism there!
    I do believe I walked through that intersection about 25 years ago. Not sure if I was one of the million or one million and one? But I do like the contrast of the traditional and the modern.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Markie,

    Loved the cockroach stuff. And maybe about the stuff about the book..or whatever you were saying. The middle photos? They lacked something. I know: it was ME.!

    Glad the trip went well. congrats on the new apt. Been Jonesen for a new blog to read–love your writing. And Welcome back! Keep plugging away. The world is your oyster, my godson. You will succeed in anything you do. Now is the time to enjoy and experiment. Luv you bro. Rock on. Mjd Sr

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your pictures and descriptions make me want to visit Japan. Nothing would induce me to visit Wales, however, not even The Once and Future King. I will definitely give that book a second look based on your recommendation.
    Keep blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mark!! Excellent post. That first photo is stunning! Can’t wait to see the framed photo of the golden temple. Would love to see your thoughts on No Time to Spare in the next blog post. 🙂

    Like

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