Friday, November 18, 2016

One Last Wave

So I stopped posting here a few months ago mostly to focus on a new site, But I Also Have a Day Job, where I blog about the hazards faced by creative people like me who also have to keep the bills paid.  If you’re a long-time reader or first-time visitor here, check it out, or follow me on Twitter @IantheRoge.

A Wave of the Hand has meant a lot to me for a really long time, and I honestly wish I still had time to post random fun bits of writing here.  I started this blog in the days after college when I needed a way to channel my creative output in a way that other people might actually see.  If I had an idea, knowing I had this blog as an outlet pushed me to develop that idea, revise it, and see it through, rather than just thinking, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to write about that scene in Better Off Dead where Roy Stalin calling Lane ‘buddy’ emphasizes what a jerk he is? Without this blog, that idea would’ve fizzled out and become nothing.

We all need practice to get better at things, and I needed practice writing.  I wish I’d written more when I was in high school, and in college even, but I didn’t really write much at all during those times.  Maybe that was because I arrogantly thought that I was already good at the creative thing I wanted to do just because I’d had some early successes, and that when future projects came along I’d be good at those too through some magical gift I had inside me.  Yeah, right.

In real life things don’t work that way.  You only get good at writing (or at anything) by doing it so often that it becomes second nature and the ideas themselves become your real focus.  This blog helped me make that happen.

This blog was also vital when I was in Japan, a place of incredible adventure that I also found fascinating and sometimes shocking.  My entries on Japan were my first real attempt to not only understand Japanese culture, but to share it with people in a way that would make them as interested in it as I was.  A lot of themes from these posts made their way into my Japan novel, which I couldn’t have written if it hadn’t been for this blog.

Then there was the way this blog let me engage with people (both friends and strangers) in a way that was simpler and more removed from the social media information overload.  I’ve always wanted to make things that people would enjoy but that also made them think, and this blog showed me what that felt like. 

I also met at least one friend through this blog who saw it and reached out in real life, which was also the first time that something I’d created and shared had a real impact on the world around me. That was pretty cool.

Lastly, keeping this blog helped me stay organized—I made posting here a priority and planned out the time to make these posts happen.  I’ve always been good at working in more structured environments (e.g., school), but that got a lot harder when I didn’t have that structure anymore and had to both set my own assignments and get them done.  (Some Advice: If you can do these two things well, you can do anything.)

This blog’s done so much for me, yet so many of those things are in the past now.  Sometime between then and now I realized that I didn’t need this blog for those same reasons anymore, and that I needed other challenges instead.  Life stops being interesting if we don’t keep trying new things, and I never wanted this blog to feel like a chore.

It did seem wrong, though, to just abandon it without a proper send-off, so if you’ve been hanging around here a long time, thanks for reading, and I mean that.

And if you’re new here, I don’t always wax this sentimental, so check out my new website, or the older Wave of the Hand entries here.  Either way, I hope you find something you like.

Never stop moving, exploring, or trying new things.

Peace out, everybody.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Pros and Cons of Living in Nebraska

Reasons to Stay in Nebraska

  • Cheap rent
  • Ruby Red Squirt readily available
  • Cheap utilities
  • Vehicle inspection laws slim to non-existent
  • Nice sunsets
  • Lots of things (stores, bars, parks, etc.) within walking distance
  • Cheap eating out
  • Friends/social group provides support network
  • Leaving means time and money lost through relocation expenses

Reasons to Leave Nebraska

  • Winter is a dry, snowless wasteland of dead grass and trees, with endless views of the torn-up, broken corn and soybean fields as one drives along the highway.  Humidifiers become a necessity, and dry skin reaches its peak during January/February.
  • Summer is hot and humid as fuck, with a mugginess that sucks all moisture from one’s body and causes intolerable dehydration (see earlier note about walking).
  • Social interactions marred by people’s preoccupation with empty politeness, inherent in the idea that they can’t say what’s really on their minds and instead adopt a series of motions designed to simulate friendliness in an acceptable manner.  In situations where social norms don’t require such politeness (for example, when passing someone on the street), a posture of extreme indifference is adopted instead.
  • Prevalence of critical, internal judgment based on a person’s race/appearance/economic status, most often (in my case) implied through questions about one’s career goals and college experience (for example, “What did you go to school for?” “Is it hard to get a job using that degree?” “What are you going to do next?” etc.) in ways that mask the asker’s underlying criticism.
  • City architecture consists primarily of parking garages and bland-colored office buildings, thus contributing to an atmosphere of sameness.
  • No mountains, ocean, lakes you can swim in, or real forests within reasonable driving distance.  Hiking and walking trails minimal, and are usually restricted to prairie grasslands and urban bike paths.
  • The overwhelming feeling that everyone in Nebraska holds the same values, the same beliefs, the same life goals, and strives always to be the same, meaning that those holding unpopular, alternative, innovative, self-taught, or otherwise different beliefs will be subtly made to feel as if they don’t belong, make foolish decisions, or are otherwise just plain wrong, simply because they stand outside the majority.
  • It’s good to keep exploring new places.

Friday, January 22, 2016

In Which Our Hero Discusses Japanese Monetary Customs With a Junior Teller at Wells Fargo

Japanese 2000 yen notes (worth about $20 US), featuring the Shureimon gate (front) and Lady Murasaki Shikibu with a scene from The Tale of Genji (back).


IAN is buying Japanese yen from a young TELLER behind the counter of a bank lobby whose ceiling is exorbitantly high. The TELLER counts out the notes, which IAN then considers.

IAN: Do you mind if I trade in some of these two-thousand notes for a few five-thousands? Japanese people don't really use them, so they'd peg me as a tourist.

TELLER (surprised): Uh, I didn't know that. (checks computer) Sorry, we don't have any other yen here.

IAN: That's fine. It'll just be like I started using two-dollar bills everywhere.

TELLER (oblivious): Oh. (Pause, after which he begins to speak from a clearly rehearsed script.) Now, will you be using your debit card in Japan?

IAN (tilting his head in the Japanese manner of not wanting to correct someone): Not this time—Japanese businesses don't really take cards. They're still a cash society.

TELLER (wide-eyed): Wow, I didn't know that. I take it you've been to Japan before?

IAN: Yeah, a little bit.


Time to take a trip—my first time back in Japan in almost five years. Feels good to be doing something exciting again, to be going to a place where daily life will be just a little bit more challenging.  That's the kind of thing that makes you sharper.

Lots of changes coming for 2016. I finished a novel last year, finished grad school, and started doing more things that matter. Blogging also still matters—putting things out there in a form more substantial than a Facebook post or tweet keeps me sharp, and keeps the ideas flowing.

Been working on a better place to do that than Blogspot, though, which has become the blogging equivalent of AOL Instant Messenger (out of fashion, but technically still around). Stay tuned.