June 18, 2002 20:07 Joe Asakura
This is my assignment for Dr. Gail Berkletter for the week of June 17. Write down my thoughts. We will discuss the exercise in our next session. I don't have to show her what I wrote if I don't want to. I don't really see why I should bother writing anything if she's not going to want to see proof, but supposedly this will help me "deal with things." I like Gail, I like her a lot, and I'm not just writing that because I might let her read this, although I haven't decided yet. It's a big MIGHT. But she's very nice, very good at what she does, I think. I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to be a psychologist and have to listen to people whining about their miserable lives all day, but she's pretty good at it. So if she says this is a good exercise, I'll try it, even if she isn't going to make me prove that I did it.
This is hard. When you sit down at a computer and start to write, you're not thinking naturally. You're trying to think about what is the best thing to think about. You try to be clever. Your mind doesn't just run. A good time to think is not when you are trying to write your thoughts because then you are thinking too much! When you're driving, that's a good time. Or in the shower, or even watching TV, if your mind drifts. I guess my mind drifts a lot, except when I'm working. Then I'm focused 100%.
Gail says I obsess about my parents' deaths, and she's right, but who wouldn't? She says I have it really bad, though, because I have still never properly grieved for them. Also, I have never really said goodbye - I keep telling her I never had the chance, but she says that's not what she means. So I'm planning on going to B.C. Island soon and see if that helps. She says I'm not ready, but I think I am.
Most of the time, when I remember my mom and dad, it's the same image over and over. I never remember having supper or playing ball or getting yelled at, or any of those things you're supposed to remember about childhood. Sometimes I imagine my mom used to sing me to sleep, but that's just something I made up. It seems like a nice thing for a mom to do, and I like to think I had a nice mom. Truthfully, I don't remember. I don't even remember their faces, because in the image of them I always see, they're face down, dead. In a way, it's s shame they're face down, but in another way, it's better that way. I would rather remember no face than a dead face. Have you ever seen a dead face, Gail? I've probably seen hundreds of dead faces, and each one is burned into my memory forever. If I wanted to, I could sit here and call up each one in my mind and see them vividly. You forget the faces of the living, most of them. But you never, ever, forget the faces of the dead.
This is a great assignment. I feel great now. I could feel this crappy without your help, ha ha.
When I want to think comforting thoughts, I think about what it might be like to be just a regular guy. A guy with a mortgage and a pretty wife and church on Sunday. I never told you that one, did I?! There's usually a girl I have in mind, strangers I see in passing, and I'll think "what would life be like with her?" The girl in my mind right now is one I saw yesterday in the park. She was hanging out with her boyfriend (maybe husband but probably boyfriend), who looked like a stockbroker. It doesn't matter that she has a boyfriend, because I'll probably never see her again, anyway. She was beautiful, with long blonde hair. Or maybe it was red. It doesn't really matter. For a second, I was that stockbroker boyfriend. That's how it starts. Then I think about her for a few days, until it gets too vivid and dies. Not vivid sexually. It's more like I'll imagine myself coming home to her after a long day's work, and I'll really think about that day's work, as that stockbroker or an ad executive or computer programmer, and it freaks me out, and I'll never think of her again.
Not that stock car racers don't have wives. A lot of the other drivers are married. But I just can't imagine a girl like the one in the park would ever want to marry a racer. Those guys' wives are great, don't get me wrong. I'd snag a girl who was really interested in racing in a second. I just haven't met many, and the one I have stood me up, just like that. The guys at the track say, "there are a dozen girls waiting outside your trailer, take your pick," but none of them care about racing, or anything else, that I can tell, but bragging to their friends that they did this driver or that driver. I'd never say that to those guys, because a few of them met their wives that way. Plus it would be hypocritical and unfair, because I admit to letting a girl in once in a while. If a girl came in and just wanted to talk to me for an hour, I'd sit and talk with her and that would be cool. But they never want to, in my experience. It doesn't make me feel like a big man or anything, but I'm only human. If I could have that with a girl I could talk to, I'd die happy. But it's OK if I don't. Who wants to be happy, only to die? I don't think it's in the cards for me. It will make dying that much easier.
Going to sleep now. Don't know if this was helpful or not.
July 2, 2002 Joe Asakura
I'm meeting with Gail for our weekly session in a half hour. Just want to be honest about this. I didn't write a little every day like I said I'd try to. I was going to blow it off again, but I remembered how disappointed she was last week when I didn't write anything. Writing that first assignment didn't make me feel any different, but she's insisting that it was a breakthrough for me. So I'm going to try and write something now, even though I have NO IDEA what to write about.
You said I didn't say anything about the Team the last time. We always talk about them. I can't think of anything new to say. I mean, I guess I could write a book about Ken - I don't have to tell you! You counsel him! I probably know him even more than you do, though. Ken and I have been together longer than I've been with anyone, except Dr. Nambu (but only by a little bit). I know I'd be dead without the Dr., but I'd probably be dead without Ken too. What would I have had to live for without him? A little kid doesn't live on revenge. You try to forget. You try to find happiness and have fun.
Ken and I used to get into trouble all the time. I mean all the time. I don't remember any happier memories than that. How Dr. Nambu managed to get us trained, I'll never know. We never studied. I didn't speak the language much when I came here, and I didn't learn it from those stupid books. I learned it from Ken, 100%. When we were little, before the training got hard-core, we'd play games, even during exercises. We used to pretend we were the Mighty Men. Don't laugh! We were very into it. The first time I saw a newspaper article about the KNT that called us heroes it felt strange. I didn't feel like a hero. Mighty Men, they had it made. Nothing could touch them. They never screwed up or had to kill anyone, not even their arch enemies. They always saved EVERYONE. They never would have had to do therapy. No offense. We never equated Mighty Men with what we were being trained to do, and it's a good thing, too, because we would have wound up being very disappointed. Because there was nothing we couldn't do or face when we played that game. Then we grew out of it.
We actually fight a lot less than we used to. We've fought so many times, and I don't remember the reason for any of them. I kind of like fighting him, though. He can best me. Once he kicked my ass. I swore to God I'd never speak to him for the rest of my life, and I remember actually MEANING it. He was spitting blood, because I'd sort of kicked his ass too, and he didn't care that I hated him. We were maybe 14 at the time. I told Dr. Nambu I wanted to be put on another team, and he told me there was no other team, we had to deal with it. I decided to just learn to get by forever without speaking directly to him. I had it all worked out. But the next day, we were friends again. That's always how it is. He's my brother. I have nightmares about him getting killed. It could totally happen. Even now, I wouldn't know what to do if it did. He says if anyone is going to bite it, it'll be me. I don't think so!
I'm out of time.
July 7, 2002 Joe Asakura
My challenge this week is to write a whole assignment without talking about death or anything along those lines. I didn't purposely try to write anything morbid. I can easily write something without death in it.
Last Tuesday I went racing at the Knolls. In case you don't know, that's a dirt track about 50 miles out. It's not a good track for watching races, because there are only a couple of really crappy benches there. Nobody calls the races, either. But it's a huge track, I mean really big for a track, and because it's so crappy nobody takes it too seriously. I love the Knolls. I'd go there every day. I raced against a couple of guys I knew, a guy named Del who's a better pit guy than a racer, and Ted Glass, who is one of the best racers I know. Then a couple of racers I didn't know. Ted smoked me. Between you and me, he'd probably have been disqualified in a major race, and he knew it. But for a Knolls race, he beat me fair and square. I used to get mad when I'd lose a race, even one that counted for nothing, but when you look at it, it's still a good time whether you win or lose. It's still a good release. Look, I KNOW I'm the best driver. I'm not trying to be conceited. A lot of it has to do with my training.
After the race, we were hanging out, you know, bullshitting and having a good time, when I got called in by Dr. Nambu. I hate when that happens. They looked at me like I thought I was so important. Of course they didn't understand, why should they? All they know is, when that little alarm goes off, I have to leave, no questions asked. They ask anyway, and joke about it, and I swear to you Ted almost hit the nail on the head one day when he joked that I was going to duck into my trailer and come out wearing a cape and a mask one of these days. I never react to any of their comments, except maybe to laugh. It sucks, though. I mean, if I'm by myself or with the rest of the team hanging out, it's not bad. But when I'm with regular people like my racing buddies, it's like for a little while I'm a regular guy. The team means everything to me, don't get me wrong, but I can't imagine a life where I wasn't constantly on call for god knows what mission. Even as I write this, I know that in an hour I could be flying over a Galactor base in the Azamon jungle or firing missiles at a giant mecha that's attacking New Jork. I just never know. It's an exciting way to live, I guess, but when I look at my racing buddies, I can't believe how simple life can be. They ask me why I never worry about money like they do (Trust Fund, I tell them, not that I really know what that means). They act like that means I have no worries. Ha, ha! What makes me mad is when someone acts like not depending on my racing money makes me spoiled. OK, if they knew what I REALLY did, they wouldn't think that, and it's not like I can tell them. But still. I live in a one-room trailer, most of them live in houses that are too big for them out in the suburbs, with too many cars and a TV in every room. No wonder they worry about money! I doubt I could live like that on my ISO salary even if I wanted to.
But anyway. Ryu and Jinpei are wrong. They say I'm always 100% ready to fight, but that's not true. Sometimes I'm not in the mood. Once I'm in Birdstyle, though, and smell the engine fumes from the Godphoenix (nothing else in the world smells like it), I'm ready to go. That much is true. I'm never too far off from being ready. That's a good thing, right?