about Japan, trans talk

Are you…

The other day

a regular woman?

Or at least that’s what the question literally translates to when I’m at a trans party.

Yes.
Yes, I was born with a vagina.

Which is met with with sighs.
These boys are not so interested in cisgender ladies.
But they are NOT GAY, they tell me.

Okay.
Got it.
You’re not gay.
You just like women who have breasts and a penis.

So how about rather than the binary gay, straight or bi (which still revolves around gay and straight as the defining center), sexual attraction be described as male, female or trans-oriented?

It’s interesting that so many guys give such a rat’s ass about being labeled gay.
At first I think the implication is that it’s less of a social stigma to be into transsexuals than to be gay.
But after a hard think and a talk with S, I conclude that maybe those guys don’t want to be labeled gay because they’re attracted to women.
Which would make them not gay.
They’re straight.
Or female-oriented.

The guys also want to know WHY I’m at a trans party.
If I’m not here to pick someone up, get hit on or freely be the woman I was meant to be without the genetic advantage, what gives?
They don’t get it.

The women are less confused and more, “Let’s talk heels and get drunk.”
And I’m like, “Yes, drinks and how are your lashes so amazing?”
So we chat about cars, nature, various trans scenes in Japan while commenting on bearded ladies in scandalous bikinis and Pippy Longstocking wigs.

Simply put, it’s a fun time, visually awesome and I always love to see my homefolk without their well-worn masks of social conformity.
The vast majority here freak out and/or don’t accept non-traditional lifestyles that aren’t meticulously closeted.  Just the other day, this young kid proudly displaying his many tats (which still carry a social stigma) probes me about my personal life.  I answer matter-of-factly and when I reveal that my ex still lives with me, “What the fuck?!” is his response.

Dude, you asked me.
I’m tempted to mindfuck him a bit more with the I married my trans ex-girlfriend bit but decide to keep mum.

There are pearls and swine and at this point in my life I don’t cast those strings so carelessly.

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random love

I love

Jealousymy bitches.
My right-hands.

ARGH.
I can’t fit it all in one post.
There’s too much- chats, saving my ass, working, sharing, bitching, whiskeying.
Too much fun, crying, laughter.
Too much love.

So.

It’s cold in February.
Tokyo’s chocolate heart explosions have come and gone (by the way the focus here is chocolate from the females on Valentine’s and the guys reciprocate on White Day, next month.  This country loves hetero-consumerism).
Which reminds me of my favorite V-Day tradition…

My bitches and I wear unglamorous but soft, flannel-y, fleece-y things and cheers to brown drinks on the rocks.
The oven is preheating and we do this:

Um…I’m in love with an alcoholic.
You used a condom right?

Did you use a condom?!

The one who can cook (motto: no babies, only beards) puts cookie dough on baking sheets as my young, pre-professional right-hand and I peruse the containers of magical toppings that will turn simple, golden sugar cookies into delightfully inappropriate treats to be shared with our work family in a number of hours.

We have red, pink, purple gel and cream icings.
Multi-colored sprinkles, red and pink glittery sugar dust.
Cookie dough goes in the oven.

I’m excited and feel the whiskey gently warming my cheeks…cozy times.

I blurt:
I think I’m pregnant.

These two are my damn truth serum, as my worry thought just spills out of me.

Really?
When are you supposed to bleed?
Not soon enough.  Fuck.
Plan B time.
Sigh.  I know.
Want me to go buy it for you now?
Damn they’re so sweet and waste no time taking care of fucking business.
Basically, they ROCK.
Nah…I’ll get it tonight and take it.

Ding!

As the cookies cool, we test out different icing tips and ready all the little containers.
And the fun begins.

V-A-G
CUNT- yes.
I think my penis looks weird.
I can’t fit the balls on this thing.
Uh…this tip is messed up.  I think I broke it.
It’s too big!
God, this gel icing is gross.  EW.
Chlamydia or gonorrhea?
You can fit that shit on there?
So…the nips are melding into each other.
Just sprinkle a shit-ton of glitter on it.
How do you spell—
Boobs.
Just boobs.

We turn into Valentine’s elves, gleefully creating dirty sweets that taste like total crap but will get eaten nonetheless because: the love, people.
Who doesn’t want to eat some sweet cunt on this lovers day?

More than a few 2.14s have passed since we’ve baked cookies and goofily giggled like pubescent tweens.

We’ve gone from living in the same house and/or across the street to different states and continents; we see each other a fuck of a lot less but they’re still my truth serum.

We witness big and little changes of the work, heartbreak, marriage, graduation variety.
We take pregnancy tests together, 7,000 miles apart.
We grow some and stay the same.
When I’m broken, they help.

And even though we 10,000 word-text each other and have marathon video chats, sometimes I just want a fucking whiskey with my bitches.
At a table.
In person.

Love y’all.

P.S. Also, shout out to my bitches in SF/Oakland, DC, Spain, Bahamas, Colorado, SoCal, Cambridge/NYC, Montreal, Memphis and Tokyo…thank you.

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random love, relationshipping

Let’s jump ponds

Sex changesIt’s time for an adventure.

But why does anyone do an international move?
To find themselves
or to run away.

Before I started dating S, I knew I’d move from the American South but that was to be a decidedly domestic decision between my beloved NYC and possibly Philadelphia.

Then when S and I got serious, so did the international-ness of next destination- Spain or Japan.

Why Japan?

I used to give what I thought was a well thought-out answer:
I wanted to get in touch with my cultural roots.
I wanted to be in a big city again.
I wanted to be in a more creative city.

As the move-out date approaches after S comes out as trans, I begin to doubt.
I ask S on occasion, “We’re not pulling a geographic with this move, are we?”

She’s not.
She’s fulfilling her original goal of living abroad.
She’s had enough of America and her mostly very conservative and narrow-minded hometown.

But me?

I think if I name the thing I don’t want to be guilty of, it will keep it at bay. Except every time I want reassurance that I’m not running away, something in my gut sends an, uh-oh alert to my brain. As in, I’m definitely running away. Because these days more than simply wanting an adventure, I want to be in a new place. I want to consider my transsexual relationship away from the trappings of a small and (too) familiar town where everyone who finds out about S’s transsexuality has a pointed opinion they are not shy about sharing; usually it’s ultimately supportive (after many questions) but sometimes it’s downright mean.

A year and some months pass and I think about living in Japan.
I haven’t run away yet as I haven’t escaped the confrontations that come with a rigorous raking over of me and S’s future.
Case in point: we are no longer coupled and despite moments of wanting to jet on the immediate, I stay put. I work out the highs and lows of living in a far-off unfamiliar that still doesn’t feel like home. I’m also at peace knowing that I may not ever feel completely at home here; Tokyo was never intended as a final destination.

As for finding myself, that’s certainly happened and continues to, thank goodness. This life is an often funny and delightful little mindfuck in that just when I’ve figured something out, made the hard choice and breathed a sigh of, “Okay…that bit is finished,” I am shocked at what comes next.

So the next side of my never-ending relationship Rubik’s cube?
I’m just beginning to unpuzzle this one but it revolves around a specific notion of control as a new adventure begins…

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about Japan

Love hotels & eyepatches

The other day

are old news and a new trend.
Like, love and kink, Tokyo-style.

Oh, love hotels.
It’s exactly as it sounds: a place for the sex. You can choose 1-3 hours or the night.
You might have heard Japan is renowned for its sky-high service standards and rent-a-doing-it-rooms are no exception. Jacuzzi tubs, toiletries, porn, robes, irons, condoms, karaoke (duh, it’s Japan), drinks and snacks are all de rigeur. Then there are the themes…cages, aquariums, Hello Kitty in a bondage swing, fucking carou- actually, this is so much better.

Right?

Japan is so damn good at a theme. In that realm, the bars are also awesome. Alice in Wonderland seems particularly popular and of course, the anime. Or say tonight, I want glowing eyeball cocktails while getting the crap scared out of me in a haunted spaceship while avoiding ninja stars being thrown by Technicolor horsemen. Minus the spaceship, this can happen.

But I digress.

A note on anonymity and love hotels: most enable an affair remarkably well. Zero contact with another human is absolutely possible- use the underground parking garage, touchscreen your room of choice, insert cash or a card and voilà. It’s that easy. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum: after checking-in at the front desk, if there’s a wait for a room, just chill out with other people waiting to do it by playing pool, getting a chair massage or throwing some darts around.

The love hotel experience is such customizable fun in this city.

And then there are the young kids…asking to get their eyeballs licked, followed by conjunctivitis. Young girls are especially keen on wearing eyepatches with pride- that’s right, bitches- I got herpes of the eye because I got so many people to tongue my eyeball. Y’jealous?

My homeland is so fucking weird, y’all.

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relationshipping

Where is the line?

My eyeballs need cocaine

The line that is not to be crossed.

It’s interesting, this notion of a hard limit. Every time I think, “I would/could never _______,” I am proven so, so wrong. I think the universe must have many a field day as I eat such rigidly constructed mantras on a regular basis.

I said I would never live in the South.
I spent eleven years in Memphis, TN.

I said I wasn’t into women.
I was in a lesbian relationship for ten years.

I said I would never, could never cheat on someone.
I cheated.

I told my ex-girlfriend I was not heterosexual, bisexual because of my history but totally gay from here on out.
I haven’t chosen to date a girl since we broke up.

I said I would never join finances again.
Of course I did.

I told her, “No way,” to open relationships; that’s a deal-breaker.
Totally tried it in hopes of making the relationship work.

I will never live in Japan.
Yeah, like that didn’t happen.

I didn’t think I would date a transsexual.
Best thing I’ve done yet.

At this rate I should be living in Los Angeles, practicing yoga on the daily and equipped with a station wagon full of kids in the next five years.
And a dog.

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relationshipping, trans talk

How The Two Became One or Sorry I Can’t Tell a Short Story

(Guest post written by Seralyn for Rumi’s 50th post!)

We awoke to a rather auspicious sunrise, at the far-too-early hour of 7 a.m.

“What manner of person rises at such an hour?” I thought to myself. It didn’t help that I had only fallen asleep a mere two hours before. Bleary-eyed and stumbling, I made my way to the shower room to take what, in hindsight, felt like the Fastest Shower Ever. I believe the shower totaled something like 4 1/2 minutes. You see, a goodly portion of my normal routine had been omitted when the need to cross-dress for this event arose. Can you imagine the legal necessity of cross-dressing for such an occasion? I find it difficult to believe myself. Upon exiting the shower, I’m greeted by an unusually bubbly and perky Rumi-chan. Seeing her demeanor and flippant disregard for the unseemly hour brightened both my mood and my consciousness.

Without thinking, I began to form outfit options in my mind’s eye.

“Oh, right. Boy clothes,” I remembered.

Where did I even put that stuff? After rummaging around in the back and bottom of a drawer, I discovered my sole forgotten pair of guy jeans. At least they turned out to be skinny jeans. It could have easily been the case that I ended up with those denim harem pants that guys call jeans these days. I found a black T-shirt and went in search of a reasonable top shirt. I locate a military-style button up that hasn’t been worn in over a year. Being that it’s literally the only option, I toss it on top of my bag. “There’s no way I’m wearing this any longer than necessary,” I think to myself. Perhaps it seems I’m being over-dramatic in my distaste for such things(It’s only clothes, right?), but I can’t help but feel strange and at odds with myself as I put it on. At least it’s a simple affair.

Shoes? This is normally the most fun part of getting ready for me. I happen to be addicted to fun shoes, you may or may not know. Straps, platforms, wedges, booties, heels- yes! Gimme, gimme, gimme. Hum… pumps with this outfit are a no-go. Hi-top leather sneakers it is. Once again, my only choice.

Time for hardware. Even as a guy I was oft bespeckled to what was considered a reasonable, if somewhat flowery degree[by some]. I break out and dust off the metalwork rings and fabulous Swiss armpiece given to me by Rumi two Xmases prior. How that particular watch came to be in my possession is another fun and interesting story, involving a trip to Brooklyn from Philadelphia and an extremely trusting Hasidic Jewish man; one we’ll perhaps relate another day. At this point, I’m fully ready and it’s been all of seven minutes post-shower. I glance over at Rumi, who is still working her eyeliner like a champ. I release a sigh. She can read me like a book after these years we’ve been together, and quickly senses that I wish that I too could get glamified for the occasion. She comforts me with meaningful and poignant comments along the lines of, “When we do this for real, you’ll have the most fabulous eye-make up imaginable,” and “We’ll get you some serious heels and a killer dress for the actual thing”. She makes me smile. She always could.

Once she’s finished the primping-stage she retreats to the tatami room and proceeds to finish getting ready while I poke around on the computer. She asks for my opinion, so I turn around and find myself in awe of how beautiful she looks. Resplendent in a white day dress(that was my idea, thank you very much!) and some vintage wooden platform sandals, she stops me in my tracks. After I ogle her for what was probably an indecent amount of time, we decide that we are ready. Documents gathered and in-hand, we do what any self-respecting couple-to-be would and shoot some whiskey before heading out the door. We’re getting married after all.

On the way to the train station we complete the necessary steps to procure the guilty pleasure that will supposedly counterbalance the trail of paperwork we’re about to attempt to surmount and get some McDonald’s Egg and Cheese McMuffins. While waiting for the train, I catch myself in the mirror and somewhat startle myself. I really haven’t gone out in public like this, dressed like this at all, in so long. I shrug it off and decide to start shooting video with which to remember this historic occasion. Rumi and I talk into the iPhone camera, blabbing nonsensically as our whiskey takes effect, in what we’ll later regard as a silly and endearing way.

Train ride- 3 minutes.

While waiting for our two witnesses,  we discuss exactly how far away from the pile of trash bags waiting to be picked up we should stand and I greedily consume my McMuffin as Rumi enjoys her whiskey buzz. Our witnesses arrive. They seem surprised to be given McMuffins as well. This pleases me. We walk to the Toshima Ward Office. Directly outside the building I pull my pants’ legs down and put on my shirt. Inside, we go.

Once inside, after locating the appropriate counter, we’re served up nearly immediately, only to realize that we need more time to fill out parts of documents that we previously needed guidance with. Four more groups of people go in front of us as we try to get our witnesses’ information filled in, in Kanji, in the appropriate spaces. It is all very confusing. We finally manage to achieve a state of seeming harmony with the application and approach the counter. We hand the lady the form, our passports, secondary forms, a copy of Rumi’s Family Registry(think Birth Certificate) and a few other peripheral documents. They ask for the original Family Registry. I of course brought it, but think there must be some mistake, because she’s implying that she wants to take it and not give it back. “But this is the original,” I explain to her. She insists that she understands, and that’s how this works. Rumi and I are baffled, and somewhat concerned but figure that this is just how this is to go down. Little did we realize that they’re permanently taking this document away that’s been in her possession since the 70’s, because she’s being un-registered from her family, that she’s creating A New Family Registry. This was a little scary for us.

They finally felt satisfied with what we gave them and disappeared and reappeared intermittently to have us scratch through errant pen marks that could potentially be misconstrued for some other character or to add things they felt should be there. My favorite was when they brought forms back just so I could circle a character. They knew exactly which character needed to be circled and yet they had to make sure I circled it.

Fast forward a bit and we’ve finally sent the witnesses off and get ushered to two other counters. We’re filling out some sort of Certificate of Official Confirmation of Residence(if I can read the characters correctly) when the woman at the counter asks us for our insurance information.

“Yeah, about that…” we say, “we don’t have any.”

She misunderstands and thinks that we mean that we are one of those odd and rare people who pays for private health insurance when the National Health Insurance works just fine and is cheaper.

“No, we don’t have any insurance at all.” we repeat.

“You’re not …in…any insurance program?” She seems somewhat taken aback.

“Actually, we are not.” we inform her.

She asks us to go and sit down and wait for her to call us back up. Rumi and I go sit down and begin trying to guess what the other people around us are there for.

“Those two….getting married, y’think?”

“Maybe…or maybe she’s translating for him. Hmm…” Rumi opines.

They sit down near us. I use my uncanny stealth-spy skills to try listening to what they’re saying. The Japanese girl pulls out her phone and I see a picture of the two of them on the front, faces close.

“They’re totally getting married today too,” I whisper to Rumi. She nods sagely.

At this point our whiskey buzz has worn off and I’m acutely feeling my lack of sleep. I doze intermittently and only vaguely recall the woman coming back over more than once asking, “You really don’t have any insurance?? You’re sure?” A few more noddings off and head-jerks awake we get called over and are told that we’re done here and to go upstairs for insurance registration.

Fast forward through insurance registration, yet another counter, yet another consultation and form, the meaning of which we only vaguely understand- maybe?– and we’re finally done. Actually done. We share a series of curious and utterly unique, yet entirely familiar sequences of facial expressions, and although we desire greatly to go directly to a bar, Rumi has to go teach some Japanese people how to speak English for a few hours. We part ways.

After a quick jaunt through a cookie store, the subway, and a nap which was entirely too short and perhaps more disorienting than if I had stayed awake, she returns and I kidnap her for a string of establishment-hopping. After another shot of whiskey, of course. First, I whisk us to a Yakiniku place on our street that we’ve always wanted to go to, but never have been able to. Yakiniku literally translates to “grilled meat”, but it’s one of those little charcoal braziers with a vacuum tube over it where you grill your own marinated meat and eat it right off of the grill. Next is a stop at our neighborhood Okonomiyaki pub, which is especially delicious in the way of these things. This fellow employs more than the standard Japanese flavors and ingredients in his savory dinner pancakes that are full of chopped octopus, garlic and ginger. Finally we try to go to a sushi place, but decide after we see the line that perhaps we’re not still hungry.

It was time for sweets.

I then lead her to our new artisanal western-goods import store recently completed over our train station and we get a healthy wedge of Roquefort and a couple of pastry cream-filled chocolate eclairs.

We stumble back home. What happened after that is none of your damned business.

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about Japan

Happy Japanniversary

My eyeballs need cocaine

Wow, it’s been a year already.
Craziness.

I often get asked how long I’m going to be here and my answer is always: I don’t know.

At the onset, I told myself that I would be in Tokyo at least two years for two reasons:
1) Lease agreements are usually for two years (though you can break them)
2) Year 1 would be simply surviving and experiencing everything anew and year 2 would  enable me to form a more true and objective opinion about living here- do I really like it or not.

Survival year 1 wasn’t too shabby; definitely a whirlwind and I’m really glad I had trips to Thailand and the States to break up moments of culture shock.

Some highlights:

apartment hunting and procurement in <36 hours, wading in Tokyo indie film production waters, love relationships morphing, friend relationships proving distance can bring us closer (because they ROCK), torrential downpours, best noodles ever. ever. ever., cuteness, street drinking, garbage water (more on this later), fucking Engrish, countless hours on planes (aisle seat only from here on out), A/C love, summer flu hate, cedar incense, public transport dependency, pedestrian hate, blinding island sun, meat smoke, ridiculously overpriced taxis, beer (so much beer consumed), strangers making me smile, sweat, snow, fear, joy, change, panic, loss, and love.
Always love.

Thanks for reading, y’all.
Cheers to year 2!

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