What we see is not what we see

I’ve written extensively and enthusiastically about all my temporary places of residence: rural and urban Japan, the southern coast of India, the American Midwest. But rarely do I describe the place where I was raised, and where I have spent the majority of my life thus far. If I am unreasonably reclusive about it, maybe I […]

Five Minutes to Midnight

For obvious reasons, I have been thinking a lot about sickness lately. The sweet-smelling sweat, the gunky vomit, the hacking cough, the hushed room with the shades drawn at noon. Foil packets of pastel-colored pills, alphabet pasta in thin broth. A body existing only in stasis, waiting powerlessly for healing. The terrifying hypotenuse formed by […]

Plague Doctor

Shinjuku, at night. The lights from the blinking cinema marquee are a funky, druggy rainbow of fuchsia, indigo, taxi cab yellow, sunset orange, and baby blue. On the screen above them, the mayor of Tokyo speaks into a standing microphone; the chyron below her displays the municipal virus helpline in rounded white numbers on a […]

Lavender Beringia

Around 20,000 years ago, what is now the sea between Siberia and North America was a land bridge. For several thousand years, during an ice age, a small population of humans lived there. A pause in history as a handful of men and women billowed into perfectly habitable hinterland, locked between two forbiddingly cold continents. […]

El mundo en que vivimos

At the drugstore while purchasing lock-down provisions, I spot a bar of chocolate wrapped in pink tinfoil. I devour it whole as I walk back home, carrying kitchen bleach and soy milk in a plastic bag. It tastes almost exactly like the strawberry yogurt cups of my distant childhood. I am drawn to the familiarity […]

Deadly Cherry

Sitting on the subway, I notice, for the first time, the tartan pattern on the train seats: maroon diamonds, with tiny, dark pink blossoms in the center of the repeating design. The trees sprout fistfuls of white flowers. I stare up at the boughs, mesmerized. The color instantly reminds me of the vivid, graphic white […]

Time horizon

A gulf yawns between the past and the future. Supposedly, this space is meant to be filled with the present, but I’m not confident I know what this means nor entails. A wide view of the present contains yesterday, today, and tomorrow. A narrower view contains only a single fleeting, blistered millisecond: the now. The […]

Tokyo gold rush

I often say that life in Tokyo is fantastically lonely. That description isn’t fully accurate; for one, I should really specify “my life,” to avoid immediate objections regarding generalization. I should also qualify the use of “lonely,” which, despite the aura of negative connotations, deserves, in my mind, a long-awaited re-branding. When I flesh out […]

Yearn tonight

In a near-empty library, I sit at a computer and type away, smacking at the keyboard as though breaking a fast. I’m listening to an ambient music album recommended to me this morning by my brother, who now lives almost 11,000 kilometers away in an arboreal industrial city. The music has cracked something inside me. […]

And death shall have no dominion

Flying over Siberia, I press my face to the tiny cabin window and stare down at the landscape. The tundra at night is a frigid blue-white veined with darker depressions; arctic tones, though the flashing light on the airplane wing occasionally tinges the snowbanks 30,000 feet below with strawberry-pink. Everything I can see has a […]