do i have to do this again?

Tokyo. Again. And again I’m just passing through, still haven’t been able to see Japan. This past week, I was originally booked for Japan, but plans changed and I stayed in Taiwan instead. Anyway, that’s all old news now, history. I’m on my way home, finally, after what seemed like a month-long two weeks. Really, I got to the point where I welcomed the hotel bed as my own each evening. A spotty week for writing, or maybe I should say posting – because I actually wrote quite a bit. A couple paragraphs from Tuesday, some crazy outlines for an intended Wednesday entry, and last night’s famous unfinished Thursday-night-in-the-bar entry. Anyway, I’m gonna make the verb-tense workable and go ahead and publish most of it riiiight about? now.

[Written Tuesday afternoon in some hotel conference room, after giving my initial presentation to about 150 Chinese dudes.]

Damn. Nothing can humble me like giving what I feel to be a bad presentation. I mean, I just got off the stage and I think I stunk it up royal. I blanked on a couple of really easy questions and just didn’t have confidence in my knowledge of the material. Man I wanted to run out of that room. What’s worse: I’ve got a totally different one to give in another hour, one I’m equally undereducated on. Ugh, right now my only solace is thinking that I can head back to the hotel in shame and take a nap if I want. I’m sure from the audience it didn’t look that bad, but knowing that I was just reading from the material with no knowledge to back me up sure made me feel crappy. What a terrible feeling, and embarrassing too. I’m ready to leave Taiwan again.

It’s funny how a bad experience like that can make me want to crawl into a cave and hibernate (read: lock myself in the hotel room with the “do not disturb” light on and lounge around in my boxers). It’s my laziness kicking in I guess. To make matters worse, I had an 11pm conference call last night and didn’t get to bed until 1am, only to wake up in four hours for another call at 5am, then it was straight from that call to here. Now I’m dangerously tired and trying to stay awake for my next class. Funny thing is, whenever I do come off a less-than-stellar speaking engagement, I always question why I like doing it at all. I mean, not putting myself up there means never having to be embarrassed. Talk about a quitter attitude huh? But, I know I’ll do it again, because I like to – and I like it most when things go well and I come off feeling like a champ. I suppose every one has a “stinker” once in a while, presentation or not. (Note from the future: The next presentation and the Q&A sessions that followed in the days after went superb, more than making up for the self-loathing my initial bomb instilled in me.)

Another editors note: Wanna see my “free writing” notes for that last paragraph? Oh, what? You do? OK, here it is: funy, performp poorly and start questioning how much i like it. lazy, from youth, etc. Wow, exciting huh? I mean, it’s these sneak-peeks into the behind-the-scenes workings of the blog that just set me apart from other writers. At least, to me I mean.

[Written late Thursday night from a corner table in Henry’s Bar at the Sherwood Taipei, three or four bloody marys into a night getting tight on spiked ‘mater juice.]

Sitting here in a dark corner, cigar smoke and Mandarin fill the air. I’m looking out across the dim room to the bar – where the bartender is making me a new bloody mary to replace the one I just finished. Her name is Tracy, but in Chinese it’s something longer and is drawn with a lot of little sticks and boxes that look like lanterns and houses and tic-tac-toe games. I know because she wrote it down for me on one of the paper coasters she brings the drinks on. She’s trying to teach me more Chinese before I leave, but the bar is busy and she can only come talk ever once in a while. So far I can recognize about twenty characters, and understand a few words in every sentence. Next time I come, she says, she promises to speak better English if I promise to speak better Chinese. Deal.

Anthony and Pat were here, but went out to the night market to see the people drink snake’s blood. In all my time in Taipei, I’ve never had the urge to go to snake alley. It sounds interesting as all get-out, but the locals look down on the place as dirty and giving them a bad name. Last night I went to karaoke with two girls that work at this bar. Tracy actually changed her night off to go, all the bar staff knows it and they give me funny looks and talk about me in Chinese (I can recognize my name, “Da-Way,” in Mandarin). A buddy of mine from the states who speaks Mandarin and is also friendly with the bar staff hooked up the outage, and they came and grabbed me from my second-favorite bar down the street and whisked me away to karaoke. Everyone knows I have a crush on Tracy so it was all a big joke. We ended up having a blast. The Taiwan beer and milk-tea flowed freely and my head didn’t hit the pillow until 3am.

So tonight I’m practicing my words again on the drink coasters: fire, human, door, time, ask, month, temple, big, sun, house, one, two, three, four, understanding, ten, and love. Later I’ll end up hanging at the bar until they close at 1pm, drinking more bloody marys and finally winding things down with some milk-tea-made-with-love. Time to hit the hay, and what do you know it’s 4am again somehow. Taipei was fun this time, a bad presentation, a good presentation, two nights of karaoke, and a handful of nights where one more hour out would’ve meant seeing a sunrise.

I’m done, I’m outta here. Until next week when writing once again begins on US soil, Dave out.

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