about Japan

Cats and shit

Cats and shit

on a walk.

I see various exotic creatures on a leash in Tokyo.  Especially in Shibuya, aka loud and crowded young kids shopping paradise.  Ferrets, bunnies, monkeys on leashes.  Or a random pet squirrel, perched on its owner’s shoulder.

The other day I’m walking, eyes glued to my phone screen when my peripheral vision spies a puff-ball on the ground.  Really?  My eyeballs scan and the puffs increase— there are five.  I focus my gaze and see three more in a stroller.  Fat, delicious Persians on shoestring (but probably more like crazy-luxe designer) leashes.  They’re all smoke-tipped cream puffs.  Scrumptious.  I peer closer to check out why the man leading this fuzz brigade is stopped in the middle of a fucking busy sidewalk.  I’m also about to take a shot of this curious and happy sight.

Until I see Cat-Nanny-Daddy wiping an— whoa, the smell hits at the exact moment I see the uncontrollable mess.  I hope he’s got so many more tissues than what I see in his hand.  Oh god.  The poor others in the stroller, trying to shy away from the unfortunate one and their wispy-long coats are brushing against the mess.  This is hilarious in its absolute hideousness.  I could take a picture but I can’t.  All I can think of is the poor undignified quadruped having lost its shit and getting cleaned up in such plain view, garnering some sympathy from passersby but mostly indignation.

Poor kitty.
Poor human.

Um also, the tissues— where’s he going to put that biohazardous crap?

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about Japan

Don’t touch that

 

Don't touch

bush.

Seriously.

I’ve not been a lesbian slut-puppy (I mean with a natal woman) in Tokyo so I mostly hear pube-chat from my het-guy friends and there are many a reference to Japanese women not shaving.  This strikes me as odd since all other body hair must go.  Really.  Laser is the norm for arms, legs, face.  Get rid of that forever.  BUT.  Don’t touch the snatch.

Recently, S and I have awesome ōnsen (hot springs) time and we are getting major once-overs by the slew of naked ladies around us.  Correction— our muffs are because they’re the only clean-shaven bitches in this bathhouse.  So I stare back and…trimming is nonexistent.  We’re talking super voluminous-natural, like need to blow dry that shit so your panties aren’t sopping.  Very curious.

It’s such a phenom to be clean-shaven that S’s student asks to see and touch her because it’s so unfathomable.  S obliges and her student delights in the novelty.

Caveat: if you’re a t(w)een with a mother who thinks you’ve got the goods to be a model, everything— yes, your crotch— is getting the laser treatment.  Truth and ouch.

Also, hooray to S’s first ōnsen on the girls’ side!  It was great fun.  Definitely nerve-wrecking but the first time usually is, yes?

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random love

If

If

“failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor”

                                                          ~Truman Capote

then I don’t fail enough.

Sigh.

I fail at little things, quite often: lacking discipline, producing enough, achieving balance.
I sweat the small shit.  I allow stress an easy in.  I’m impatient.
But an epic fail that forces me to get wise, Quick?

I don’t think so.
Because if said failure had happened I doubt I would be so scared.

I avoid getting hurt, which I feel is weak.
I have problems being vulnerable.  I protect myself.  I don’t risk enough.
Yawn.

So.
I attempt growth: I risk, I jump, I expect.
There’s no palpable achievement, no net and free-fall is my second skin before I hit the ground, and it’s not graceful.
Disappointment happens, I hurt and I am hurt.
I cry a lot as a result and I think I’m stressing out my heart because when feeling especially neurotic, I swear its beat is damn irregular.

But life’s still fun and funny.

People surprise me.
Better yet, they impress the hell out of me.

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about Japan

東京 road rage

東京 road rage

is curious.

I’m high up in a memorable Tokyo landmark…the Cocoon Tower in Shinjuku.  I sit in front of my glowing screen in a room with many bare, fluorescent bulbs amidst a very typical-for-an-office, dropped ceiling.  We don’t sit in cubicles but our work stations are divided into open cubicle-like sections.  I like my neighbor because he has a cheery, chubby face and his snacking habits make me feel at home.  The 30th floor is nice; I have a great, 360° view of the city and that alone makes me smile every time I’m here.  I’m a tourist in my workplace as I click my camera as the light changes, natural warmth disappears and electric candy-show-time starts blinking.

Blink-blink, red and blue neon.
Blink-blink, orbs of white.

Today, in this fun tower, I learn what 20-something Tokyo boys consider rude-ass behavior.  I should qualify that they love cars, driving and racing so they really only care about what gives them road rage.

Which comes down to:
1) Jaywalking.  No matter where you are in this world, pedestrians always win and jaywalking families in the ‘burbs that jump out from nowhere makes these boys’ blood roil-boil.
2) Not yielding to allow passing on a slope.  Basically, the driver going uphill has the right of way on a one-lane road but apparently many a time, the downhill driver will just sit there, and a game of chicken starts.  It’s particularly en-fucking-raging at night when the downhill driver is in a van or other high vehicle because they fail to turn off their lights and end up blinding the driver who has the right of way.  One dude slams his fist on the table; this shit behavior really makes him mad.
3) No hazard light click-click= ‘Thank You’ after they slow down to let a car merge into their lane.  Not doing that is “fucking rude“.

There’s plenty of other shit that pisses them off, most of it revolving around people who have zero spatial awareness and/or consideration for others.  These guys can seem rough around the edges, as their language is rough and their body language discourages approach but actually these guys are rather old-school-gentlemanly.  They’re judgemental as fuck but it’s rather endearing because they simply want people to care about other people.

Makes me go aww…

 

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relationshipping

Grant me the sereni— 

grant me the sereni—

fuck.
I curse my attempt to breathe and get peaceful.
Again.

Try again:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

I tell her, “It’s this damn hope I have that’s starting to make me feel duped.  I can’t change my current difficult, seemingly impossible situation but I don’t want to give up.”

Which reminds me of the man who flew halfway around the world to meet S.
They’re good friends.  For a solid year they talk, Skype, text nearly everyday.  I heard the tail end of a phone call about six months into their friendship.
“S, he likes you.”
“What??”
Uh-oh she’s turning red.
“Um you’re turning red.”
“Shut up, Rumi!”
“You know he likes you.”
“He has a girlfriend.  Besides, what makes you say that?”
“Because no guy stays on the phone for that long to be ‘nice’.  He really likes you.”
“But…”
“Do you like him?  I mean, if he didn’t have a girlfriend would you consider going out with him?”

Yeah, he and his girlfriend broke up not too long after that conversation.  And he and S became more than friends.  Which brings me back to his flying out to Tokyo.  I mean you have to meet in the real to see if it’s real, no?

I check out of the apartment while he’s in town because, as if I’m going to witness potential crazy-honeymoon-period-doing it (but I’ll gladly listen to her tell me the gory deets).

I meet up with them and it’s immediately clear that he’s really, really into her.  I mean he can barely ask me a question because he’s so glued onto her.  I’m pretty sure he thinks he loves her.  So I look over at her and…S doesn’t have to say anything for me to know that something’s not right.  Nothing is outright wrong but something’s off.

Two days later, she and I meet up to chat.
“I’m just not attracted to him.  I think it’s pheromones.”
“Aww…I’m sorry, S.  That sucks.  He really likes you.”
“I know.  I feel terrible.  He’s so nice and he thinks I’m beautiful and awesome.  But I just…can’t.”
“No, you sure as hell can’t.  You can’t make that X-factor chemical attraction happen.”
“I tried…”

And how’s this for fucked up:
Even though this really sweet guy is guilty of nothing but showing her love and affection, I’m protective of S to the point where I’m cursing this dude for making her feel so down.  Yes, the sympathy unbalance is definitely fucked up.

My words echo between my ears:
“I can’t change the current difficult, seemingly impossible situation but I don’t want to give up.”

And I’m finally able to be sympathetic towards the poor dude who faces definitive, unrequited love…there’s no going back.

“You don’t want to give up…I guess that’s where the rest of the prayer comes in.”
“Oh crap, how’s the rest go?  I forget ’cause I always get stuck on trying to accept the shit I can’t change.”
“You have to change what you can.”
“I can’t change the situation.”
“Maybe you have to take yourself out of the situation…?”
“Yeah…  But that’s so fucking hard.”
“I think that’s why they say that ‘courage to change the things I can’t’ bit.”
“Hmm…”
“And then there’s the wisdom to know the difference…”
“Goddammit.”

 

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relationshipping

People disappear

People vanish

and it cuts me.

“So I’m seeing someone.”
Silence.
“Um…”
“Yeah?”
He’s angry.
“Why do you sound angry?  Are you mad?”
“Well, yeah.  I didn’t think you’d be dating anyone.  Why do you think I’ve been on the phone with you for hours every night?  Why do you think I sit through your tears and help you get over your breakup?”
“….I thought…I thought…  You’re my best friend.  I thought you were being my best friend.”
“C’mon, Rumi…you know better than that.”
This time the silence is all me.

He goes into detail as to why I ought to know better but I’m questioning my awareness as fast as I can because I’m caught and psychosomatic heart-drop reactions are combatting mental processing.

I consider things like:
I thought you were asexual because your art is your girlfriend and I don’t see your vulnerable side.  There was a window where we could have not skirted around the ‘do we consider something more than friends’.  And though it was never shut, we sure didn’t make efforts to see each other on the constant and we never stopped skirting, dammit.  When you moved away I made an effort to strengthen our tie because it’s fucking rare that I can talk art and people and life the way we can while you crunch on pickles, beer and cheese curds and I eat fatty-fat pulled pork sammiches with my whiskey drink.

Maybe I should have known better.
Maybe you could have said something.
We’ve been stock-still.

“I’m sorry…”
“Well, I’ll probably disappear for a bit.”
“Really?”  Damn…this fucking hollowed out feeling makes it hard to breathe.  “I guess my time is up?  I almost made it to your six-year time limit.”
“Yeah…usually six years is it.”
“Seriously?  You’re dumping me for your self-imposed friendship time limit??”
We both know it’s not the time limit that’s pushing me out of his world.  And I don’t insist on an explanation.

Because we both lose.
Even though it feels like he won.
I unwittingly broke his heart.
But he controls if I ever get to talk to him again.
And on what terms our future correspondence will take.

It’s been years since we last communicated.
I have a feeling he’s doing great.
I know he’s producing awesome images.

The funny thing?
That guy I was seeing?
A blip of a memory.

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relationshipping

I stopped writing

 

i stopped writing

and it was nice.

I write this personal blog, I claim honesty.
And yet I hold back.

Not about my trans ex turned wife and the mother of a scary-delightful roller coaster that her transition has been.
I hold back about my personal shit.  Say, the other relationship that is the most fortified citadel I’ve entered yet.  It’s awesome on the inside because I feel so safe and at home.  It’s a mindfuck on the outside because those walls are a damn high climb, makes my neck hurt just looking up to gauge the road ahead.

But cool things emerge.  Like stories I’d forgotten.
Like this one:

Did I ever tell you about the most magical room in a row of mostly empty rooms encased in cinderblock?

It all starts with a boy named Raymond White.  Raymond was the first emotionally and intellectually challenged individual I knew.

I don’t remember our handful of conversations.  I could say they revolved around asking him to join a game of “Red Rover” or what he found at the end of the enormous flat field that was the entire backside of the school, as the area that butted up against backyards of single-family homes always had an air of creepiness and I expected to find dead birds among the fallen and rotting branches.  Or perhaps we talked about our daisy-chain necklaces.  Maybe we debated how high we could swing before jumping off without injury.  But all of these are romanticised and contrived memories.

What was real: Raymond had beautiful and piercing slate blue eyes, awesome, thick-soled velcro sneakers in a matching shade and a penchant for wearing ill-fitting khaki pants (maybe this last point is better attributed to his mother but not the shoes; he loved the shit out of those velcro sneaks).  He was taller than most and his straight, sandy-brown hair was always cropped close to his largish head.  He had trouble meeting my eyes directly and he spit a lot.  This tendency towards drooling made him definitively unattractive and put me off, which then made me feel guilty because even though no teacher said anything explicitly about his CONDITION (maybe we say autism today, maybe not) I– everyone– knew Raymond was different and NOT to be made fun of.  But everyone except two girls made fun of him behind his back, even at this Montessori school where mutual respect was the goldenest of golden rules.  Because even at Montessori popularity was revered and if you felt the popularity leader might turn on you, Raymond was a most reliable and accepted scapegoat.  

Towards what will have been the end of my acquaintance with him, Raymond started carrying a stick almost as tall as him, All. The. Time.  It wasn’t necessarily the big stick that was alarming as much as Raymond’s attachment to it.  When he started to wield it as a weapon and lunge at people, fear and latent disgust happily manifested into righteous anger.  Even my teacher got on board, whom I had thought was the coolest woman ever.  Granted, there was an incident involving biting her hand but— seeing such hellfire hatred in her eyes scared and disappointed a nine-year-old me.  I overheard her talking about her inability to handle Raymond anymore and that scathing tone, the one that reduced him to less than nothing more than explicit, nasty names ever could, shocked and silenced me and I never could open up my small heart to her again.  She scared me in a more permanent way than Raymond coming at me with his stick 100 times over ever could.

You said, YOU said, he can’t help it.

That teacher never looked back at him.
Not very long after the biting incident, Raymond was absent for some weeks.  There were wonderings about his whereabouts but children are adaptable and easily distracted.

I don’t know how many months passed but one day, I see a new teacher with the kindest face, one of the top-ten kindest I’ve seen to this day.  She leads a class— and there was Raymond! in the field.  The students look so free, spinning with arms extended, their heads thrown back to catch as much of the sun’s rays.  I can’t help but feel their grass is much greener than ours because as much as I love spelling tests and grammar and Pythagoras (geeky truths), I have never fallen into the freedom spin that I witness in this blue doorway looking out.

As more days pass and curiosity about the new group of students and our familiar Raymond remains unabatable, there is finally an opportunity to openly study their school lives, which seem so different and more magical compared to ours.

And Jesus Christ did I underestimate just how fucking rainbows and unicorns a school experience can be.  The door to their magicland is identical to every other ugly blue door along the cinderblock corridor.  But as soon as I walk in, I am transported.  The room is so FULL.  Of colour, movement, animals(!), educational decor that is more cool than cliché and energy, an awesome, positive energy that pulls a huge smile from the corners of my mouth.  It is heavenly.  There are birds flying around, for fuck’s sake and I don’t mind them.  (I’m terrified of birds, by the way.)

There’s no way I could concentrate as well as these students in such a fun environment.  It makes me want to hula hoop and even though there aren’t any in sight, I know I’d be able to locate one somewhere in this room.  That they can focus amidst all the active and dormant activity surrounding them is a testament that they are in the exact right place whereas this is a mini-vacation for me, not where I belong.

I exhale huge, relieved.

Not because I’m positive I don’t belong here (that makes me sad, actually, because this world opens infinite imagination potential) but because Raymond is in a GREAT place, a warmer, safer place that gets him.

It’s the first time that I understand annoying clichés about silver linings and everything happening for a reason.  Those expressions rarely occupy a spot in my mind but it occupies the same thought cloud as my current line of thinking: sometimes we wear out relationships with those who can’t handle us so we can get to the people who can.

Or something like that.

 

 

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