about Japan

This is my brain

This is my brain

not on pot.  In Japan.

I guess my brain art doesn’t really indicate a sober state.  It’s some emotional hormones, whiskey, fried bird wing and…what the fuck am I writing?

THIS: Pot is seriously illegal in Japan.

Here’s what, according to Japan Today:

Japan’s marijuana laws are not their own. The Cannabis Control Act, implemented by the U.S. in 1948 to legitimize its own anti-pot legislation, is in direct opposition to hundreds of years of cannabis use in Japan. No, the Japanese weren’t sitting around, red-eyed and playing Ben Harper songs on a shamisen, but they were making clothing, rope and bowstrings from hemp and using cannabis in Shinto ceremonies. The harsh view of marijuana in Japan is the result of the American laws; it was never the impetus behind them. If the U.S. has so radically changed its own stance on medicinal marijuana, shouldn’t Japan follow suit?

See the complete article here if you like.

So jump backwards to August 2012 and the juxtaposition of a very green Cali (duuuude, pura vida- thank you bra, loves you very much):

cali green

©Seralyn Campbell 2012

with serene and sober Japan:

japan green

©Seralyn Campbell 2012

All of this within a week made my brain go, “Wow.”

So maybe I don’t need drugs to refresh my head-space but lots of jet lag and beautiful scenery.  Okay, why am I even writing this?  To showcase the difference, people:
CA- legal, Japan- illegal.  It’s important.  We’ll talk about Thailand and Mexico later.

open relationship

Cheating is needless

Cheating is needless

in an open relationship.

Me: So…I changed my mind.  Let’s try an open relationship.  Is that okay with you?
Her: You know I’ve been okay with (read: wanting) that from day 1 (post coming out); you were the one who took issue with it.
Me: Right…so let’s try it?

It feels so fucking weird.  I would never have thought I’d do this but apparently it’s not so uncommon that even Facebook lists it as an option.  I feel that I have officially become one of those people, you know, the ones who make you feel apprehensive because they’re that  kind of unwelcome-to-the-general-public strange and different.

Well, fuck my self-consciousness.  Who am I kidding?  I was always one of those people.

So why now?  Goddamn sexual attraction.  That inexplicable shit is fucked up in that I can’t control nor sway it.  As GF becomes more bio-femmey, an intangible but very solid something is disappearing.  Aside from that bio-chemical attraction shifting, everything else is pretty damn perfect; we get along (except when I pick fights), support each other and have crazy love and respect for each other.  Perhaps open-relationshipping is the missing link that will make us consummately satisfied?

Historically I’ve said no way for 2 reasons:
1) I don’t like the idea of strangers and their bodily fluids contaminating my cozy, secure sphere or my person.
2) I don’t know how capable I am of this because once I’m into someone, it’s really fucking hard for me to be attracted to someone else.  I’ve never been able to even date more than one person at a time; casual is difficult.

Oh shit. 
Fucking dating.

What the shitshitshit?
In typical me fashion, I look up to see my new world order only after I’ve committed to the new change, which I spearheaded.  Seriously, I am the world’s worst dater; I have negative capacity to read between the lines, take everyone at their word and cannot even begin to understand dating etiquette*.

Which means single(ish) me is about to entertain the hell out of my friends and thoroughly mortify me.  Here we go again.  

*Seriously, I thought the best way to show romantic disinterest is to pay the first date resto tab, even if it costs triple digits.  Apparently not.  How do you people know this shit?!

relationshipping, trans talk

My new normal

My new normal

isn’t so abnormal, is it?

My life isn’t contained in this crazy-magical, rainbow-confetti snowglobe whirlwind filled with exploding closets, overcrowded vanities and non-stop tucking.  Really, my life is fairly mundane.  Everyday I am just being me, staying busy, surviving and hopefully thriving.

Even to my chosen family (amazing, beautiful fucking weirdos) my situation is a tad incomprehensible.  But I get to thinking and the root issue with my transsexual GF is simply a matter of dealing with constant (sometimes massive) change and the overriding question on a steady loop in my head is, how much change can I really handle?  Sure, most people aren’t in my exact situation but don’t we all face this question in life?

think I’m super adaptable and I like the idea of change but in my current relationship, my capacity to adjust and evolve is constantly and scrupulously examined.  My self-proclaimed open-mindedness and willingness to explore new and uncomfortable spheres haven’t been tested like this before.  

And it is daunting.  

Beneath my wanderlust and seemingly fluid sexuality, I don’t like experiencing too many changes at once.  And currently, many looming changes require perpetual shifting, transitioning and adapting, which means I’m experiencing consistent discomfort and insecurity.  My logical brain is over this taxing process, but my slightly sadistic side appreciates a mental earthquake and an emotional jolt.

Despite the confusion I face when thinking about the future with my GF (namely, is there one?), I really try to stay in the moment and not overthink what lies ahead.  This is difficult for me but it’s the only way our relationship has a chance of working out because who the hell knows how emotions and attractions will change; there is just no telling.  Staying supremely in the here and now is a huge challenge but the rigorous honesty it demands certainly keeps me from becoming complacent and that’s an excellent thing.

So moving to and living in Tokyo with a transsexual in transition means: people change, ideologies metamorphize, assumptions disappear and serious growth occurs…okay, wait, I totally lied; I do live in a  crazy-magical, rainbow-confetti snowglobe and I feel really fucking lucky for it.

P.S. Thank god for stupid fucking DOMA getting its ass kicked, right?

random love

Let’s get it straight…

Let's get it straight

because I don’t know how to tell my story chronologically.

My brain has never processed in a linear fashion so here’s a nifty timeline (thank you, Seralyn, awesome computer genie) to help identify where in the relationship each post lands.  I’ve timelined past posts because I think it will clarify and better represent who we are/were when we were experiencing all sorts of transition.

Thank you awesome people for the support and encouragement thus far and hopefully this visual will help; I always benefit from a colorful chart (thank you, Maria Montessori).

open relationship

I see open relationship

I see open relationship

but. I. Don’t. Want. To.

Fuck a tightrope, fuck balancing.
The ground beneath my feet is so many thousand miles below, I can’t even fathom stepping on solid ground.

What am I bitching about now?

All impending physical changes aside, I realize soon after his coming out that my boyfriend turned girlfriend will need to figure out if she’s straight, gay or bi.  Some people are born knowing/feeling their hetero/homo/bisexuality.  For others, it’s not so immediately clear; various experiences are required to truly understand and/or accept their sexual identity.  I am partnered with a self-proclaimed experience whore, for whom figuring out her sexual orientation will necessitate experiential experimentation.  I know that at some point I will have to be okay with this, or not, but either way there will be a fork in our hitherto monogamous path.

At the moment, I have negative interest in an open relationship.

This is hard.


Sure, when he was a guy, he was heterosexual but he’s not such a he anymore.  And just like I have questioned whether or not I would be able to stay attracted to him as he transitions, I have to wonder about the potential turns her sexual attraction will take.  Not to mention, she has stated that dating a heterosexual man would validate her female-ness like nothing else, which I totally understand.  And although she won’t date or sex other people because she knows I’m not ready to open relationship, I really get that it’s unfair for her to not do what everyone does (or ought to)…explore their sexual identity.

My mind can process this quite rationally but in the moment, only weeks after her coming out, my emotions are slighty nauseous and fail to keep up with the seemingly radical relationship shifts that await us.  Currently neither of us is eager to change our relationship status but this waiting period is difficult for me.

Because I know soon everything will change. Again.

about Japan

Women shave what in Tokyo?

Let's get it straight

Their faces.  Their arms.  On the regular.

It’s true.  It’s culturally unattractive to have hairy arms (meaning any hair) and anything less than smooth-as-whipped-butter faces (read: shaved, exfoliated and perfectly moisturized).  I’ve shaved my face before (what?  I was curious, I try shit out and there are special teeny, tiny razors specifically for this purpose, in an array of pretty pastel colors) but I haven’t done it since moving here because I’m lazy.  

Actually I’m not lazy but Tokyoites will absofuckinglutely deem you lazy if you don’t wear makeup.  Believe.  Like, don’t subject the general public to your unmade-up face.  You’re not even going to make the effort to look like you put forth an effort?  How rude.  My American mindset thinks, jeez, judgmental much?  But here, it’s viewed as having consideration for others; make like you give a shit, don’t make it hurtful for others to look at you because they have to look at you.  Thirteen million or so of you.  Everyday.  So, shaving your face and arms is part of the cultural ideal for a Japanese woman.

GF told me I should try shaving my arms (of course she would and thus keeps proving how much more with it she is at being a woman than my bio-femme ass).
Her: It’s not going to grow back hairier.
Me: I don’t know…
Her: Trust me, you’ll like how it feels.
Me: But it seems like more maintenance that I’m not sure I want to commit to.
Her: By the way, women here are not as hairless as you think they are.
Me: What are you talking about?  They so are.
Her: No. They’re not.  I saw a woman on the train today who had leg hair matted down by nude hose.  In fact that’s why so many woman wear nude hose (with sandals, by the way, which is a pet peeve of mine), to hide their hairy legs.
Me: Seriously?  I thought it was because it’s considered a tad indecent to bare your legs.

Oh Japan, yet another cultural aspect that I don’t understand…hose in the hot-and-humid-as-fuck summer to cover beast legs coupled with meticulously shaved faces and arms, arms that are covered with anti-UV ray arm warmers, by the way.

Oh, and the perfectly made-up faces?  The makeup itself might be questionable but the skin?  Fucking astoudingly beautimous.  Like the stereotype.  Like porcelain.

trans talk

Hormonal hesitation

hormonal hesitation

is on my mind.

I often worry about the effects of the hormones GF’s taking.  We both think about her mones a lot but in different ways.

Her: I think my breasts stopped growing.  I’m definitely going to need surgery.
Me: I thought you said they weren’t finished?  And I thought I was impatient.
Her: They’re not growing as much these days.
Me: Didn’t you up your hormones?
Her: Yeah.
Me: Wait, did you up them again?  I have learned that when GF is down about the rate of her physical transition it’s because she’s increased her dosage and she’s not seeing results on the immediate enough.
Her: Yeah…a couple weeks ago.  Don’t worry, remember they started me on such a low dose that I can take a much higher dose and be okay, especially compared to the amounts my friends have been taking for years.
Me: …okaaay.  Of course I’m worried; hormones are fucking powerful and worrisome.  

a few hours later…
What the hell was that?!  Except I’m on a damn Skype work call so I can’t check to see what broken mess awaits me in the bedroom.

A couple hours later, post-Skype sesh, GF asks if I heard the crash?
Me: Uh, yeah, kinda hard to miss; what was that?
Her: Oh, I passed out and fell into the mannequin which crashed into the clothes rack against the window.
Me: Jesus Christ, are you okay?!  How are you always so casual about these things?
Her: I’m okay but I wondered why you didn’t come in here when I fell.
Me: I was on stupid Skype for work.  Is it because you upped your hormones?  I’m not scapegoating her hormones but surely it’s no coincidence that she started feeling faint when she had been on them for a couple months…and passing out has become more constant as she has increased her dose.
Her: I don’t know why I did, you know it’s been happening for a while now.  It could be any number of things.
Me: Maybe cut down on the cigarettes?  I don’t think they help.  Quitting hormones is out of the question and she will never attribute her passing out to them but I do want her to quit smoking.  She knows this.  I believe there’s a link between the cigarettes, hormones and passing out**.

Oh hormones, such necessary but troublesome little fuckers.

**My dumb ass didn’t realize that a BIG part of why she passed out was because she was fasting.  Yeah, fasting for days on end and passing out = correlation?  Duh.

about Japan

The H in HMU

the H in HMU

is crucial.

I maintain that awesome hair is the best accessory and girlfriend can back me on this.  I had some serious anxiety about finding a stylist in Tokyo; we both fretted over finding stylists for two very different and valid reasons.

Me: I had a superstylist in the States, someone who instinctively knew what avant-garde-ish cut I wanted before I did, got what looked best on me and steered me clear of potential regrets.  Asymmetry? Duh.  Supershort bangs? Um, no.  Really? They look so damn cute on everyone!  Yeah…I’m not doing that on you.  Ducktail mullet? Yea!  Fauxhawk? NO. Seriously, NO.

Her: Having naturally curly hair looks awesome but can be devastatingly difficult to maintain, especially when you’re transitioning and you’re getting your first proper lady cut in a city where 98% of the population has thick, stick-straight, coarse hair and we’re about to enter the rainy (Most. Humid. Climate. Ever.) season.

Well, this isn’t one of the most stylish cities in the world for no reason.
Thank god.
I asked a very cool chick with a damn fine cut where she suggest I go…and that’s how I found my Perfect-san.  I thought I went wrong at the first salon because I didn’t have images to show the stylist so I loaded my iDevice, only to have superpro guru say, “Why don’t you leave it up to me?”  Hell. Yes.  Thank you, immense relief and yes please.  I now feel very spoiled because I don’t have to do any pre-salon thinking and I walk out every time feeling like a badass beauty because he guarantees “you’re going to look fucking rad today” (except it’s in Japanese, which sounds even cooler) and his word is GOOD.

For GF, we investigated salons that specialize in curly hair (because they have those here) and she chose one that gave her good vibrations.  Her person turned out such beautiful results, not only were GF’s curls perfectly loosely ringlet-ed and cool bob perfect for her face, her new ‘do really upped her transition process a lot, like multiple magic mushroom level-ups.

So, Tokyo salons?  They fucking rock.  Do they cost more?  Of course but holy shit, it’s so full service that I get antsy, like: Can this be over yet?  How much longer are they going to massage me?  Do they really need to shampoo me again?…Because I’m that kind of grateful.

trans talk

Let’s talk HMU

Let's talk HMU

Hair and makeup, oh my.
I thought I was into hair and makeup.
Until my girlfriend. She fucking loves makeup.
I realize now that I like what I like, namely highly pigmented lip pencils (thank you, NARS) and colorful eyeliners (M.A.C.=awesome) but for my newbie transsexual, it’s a glorious candyland of glittery, shimmery, matte, scented, deeply pigmented F-U-N.  And though it’s always a good time to look through the aisles at Sephora, I’m experiencing it through the eyes of a teenager who has been let loose in the most fun candy store yet, meaning it’s completely endearing but a tad exhausting- literally.  I cannot remember the last time I looked through almost every makeup brand’s products.

I say, get a bunch of different things; you just have to try it out to see what works.
Trial and error, much?  And her skin tone and features are so different from mine that we will not be sharing products.  But not sharing is okay as I like to keep a certain order to my things and she is a veritable tornado.

So as she is getting into her makeup routine, this is how our mornings go:
Me: I think I’m wearing too much eyeliner.
Her: That’s just because you can actually tell that you’re wearing makeup.  You’re just not used to it.
Me: I can feel the weight of the mascara though, like every time I blink.
Her: Look, the thing with mascara is you put on more than you think you need then add two more coats.
Me: Hmm…so it’s like lube (when you think it’s too much, it’s almost enough?).  I don’t think you’re taking into account how different our features are; your eyes can take twenty pounds of mascara and look natural (hmm…I might be a little J about this).
Her: No, it’s that when you wear makeup you can barely tell you have it on.  And you still haven’t answered me; how do I look?  She’s telling me this when she’s only been using the shit for, like, a week?
Me: You look good; wait, close your eyes…maybe smudge your right eye shadow more, but it only looks uneven when your eyes are closed and I’m really close to your face which means no one else will notice.

Welcome to another new chapter in transsexual adjustment.
The vanity is way more crowded but I kinda like it.

about Japan

Is it legal?

Is it legal

Prostitution, that is.  In Japan.

Well…yes and no.  Such a typically Japanese answer, meaning one that begs clarification, especially for the individuals who have asked this question upon my moving to Tokyo.

Ok, here’s the breakdown:
If you are one of the few houses that were granted a special certificate from the government waaay back when (serious generations ago), then you are legal to offer coitus, which is the one act that is deemed illegal in Japan.  No new certificates have been issued since said way back when and these establishments are serious family businesses.  Even people who have prominent and demanding careers will maintain the family business (oh the ¥ value); for example, the individual conducting obligatory new prostitute interviews at night might very well be an accomplished engineer/researcher/doctor by day.

If you are not fortunate enough to have one of the carte blanche certificates then your employees are legally allowed to provide any service other than coitus…which is a considerable number of acts and scenarios.

How strictly is the law enforced?
Depends on the establishment, who owns it, location, what ties they have to the Yakuza and where those ties fall on the hierarchy.  Suffice it to say many a blind eye is turned.

And the available channels for service is pretty astonishing: soaplands (think waterproof mattresses and lube), fashion health massage parlors, health delivery services (seriously convenient), pinsaros (or pink salons, oral specialists), imekuras (image clubs where costumed fantasies are let loose) and so on…Tokyoites and tourists love their kink.

Speaking of tourists, here’s a recent article from The Tokyo Reporter about some complaints among Tokyo prostitutes.

It’s very interesting stuff, the multitude of articles and media coverage that arise when prostitution is mostly legal.  I certainly appreciate the bit of informative light that gets shone on this facet of Japan…very different attitude and tone from the American news (or non-news, I should say) regarding this subject.