Adulting in Japanese

A week of adulting in Japanese is extremely exhausting but lots of great moments mixed in with some arduous tasks like filing taxes and talking to a lawyer.  This is much better than last week which was mostly filled with sadness and disappointment. I was not accepted to the artist residency program in Yokohama which I really wanted.  This was going to keep me in Japan longer than I originally planned, either it was going to be 3 months or 1 year and I had gotten to the interview process but then I was DENIED!! It was actually very heartbreaking because I had put a lot of my spiritual energy into imagining a future where I would finally get to be in Japan making art in an artist community.  I haven’t ever had an artist residency and I haven’t created new art in a very long time so I thought that since I just worked on new pieces in Japan that I would be a good candidate, on top of the fact that Koganecho’s whole mission is to create art on refurbished brothels, so all of the artist studios that they were inviting artists to be residents in were all former brothels.  My Japanese artwork focuses on the Edo period courtesan (prostitutes) called Oiran and I feel like whether Japan supports me or not, when I leave Japan and show this work, I automatically become the educator and spokesperson of the parts of Japanese culture that I’ve done my research and artwork on. Initially, I made the rejection bigger than it actually was and it hurt a lot, I felt like Japan was kicking my ass to the floor again and I was clutching my img_20190309_224741_233wounded heart for a few hours. BUT, i soon got a hold of my brighter side and used it to light the way to the plan B future that I had before I even spotted the opportunity to apply for this residency which was to move to Hawaii and try to get a Japanese speaking job living there.  My Japanese is not at translator level, but I can definitely work at a hotel or some other place greeting Japanese people and shooting the shit with them while I serve the food. One of my students asked me, in front of my class,”Do you like Japanese culture?” and I already know how the Japanese person’s mind thinks so I know better than to really say anything too negative or truthful because their ears can’t really hear the truth, even if they ask for it. The society is not socialized to think critically and that is no fault of theirs, it is the intention of the society that they grew up in. Everyone must conform so that they can easily controlled. Japanese society is not conducive for me to live at the kind of life that I want to live.  Drugs (including marijuana) are stigmatized, prohibited and highly prosecuted, labor and housing laws are unjust, women are made invisible and/or inferior, individuality is frowned upon and the mindset of the people is far too primitive for me to ever get used to permanently. So, of course, you can’t say that to a Japanese person’s face. Yesterday, I did my taxes in Japan for the first time and it was actually pretty efficient and surprisingly foreigner friendly. One of my gripes about Japan is that, when it comes to foreigners who aren’t tourists, they are clueless about how to assist. Most doctors don’t speak English, emergency forms and announcements, sometimes are written in English, and if you can’t speak English, you are totally out of luck.  Even though, I hate identifying as a foreigner, I am one. As much as I want people here to recognize that I am Japanese, they usually don’t.  As much as I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, stupid questions or otherly treatment persists on a daily basis sometimes hourly basis.  On a good day, I’m integrated and seen as equal, or like yesterday filing my taxes, if i am not equal in certain respects, it is not a wrench in the gears for everyone involved and life can still run smoothly and efficiently.  It was my first time doing taxes in Japan and I was in and out of this roomful of 100s of people in about 2.5 hours.  There was a table of bilingual helpers who explained what numbers to put in which spaces and how to proceed to the next step.  there was another guy at another table who typed the form for me so I didn’t have to struggle with the kanji that I didn’t know using my smart phone kanji camera.  “Do I like Japanese culture?” Difficult question, I said.  “I love it.”   I told them.  LOL (half truth from a half Japanese).  But seriously do I like American culture? I’ve never been one to say that I loved it either.  One of my friends told me that all cultures are just cults (cult-ure) and I didn’t agree at the time, but I sure do now.  I think the truly empowered person is able to understand fully the cultures that they are part of and not be fooled by any of it.  I have grown to understand how American I really am since I’ve lived in Japan.  These American things that I cannot deny and these things which make me not want to conform to the ways of being in Japan for long, forever.  But, you can never explain this to a person who wasn’t raised with critical thinking.  So you cannot explain this to a Japanese person.



Bad Tattoos and Urban Geishas

download (2)When my mother found out that my sister and I got tattoos, she disowned us and kicked us out of her house and changed the locks.  We were both adults at that time (22 and 27) so, I suppose it was a good time for us to fly the coop anyway. This wasn’t the first time that she disowned me because of a tattoo.  I got my first Japanese tattoo at the age of 19, one of our family name. “You are not Japanese.” she said. “No one does such a stupid thing in Japan.” she said, and for the most part, she was right, if she was referring to Japan for the last 150 years anyway.  Japanese society was told to be fearful of tattooed people, making it associated with criminals and ostracized people. Japanese traditional tattooing is something coveted by both Japanese tattoo artists and foreign people/tattoos artists who seek to learn more about this art first hand or arm or leg.  Recently Ariana Grande got a Japanese word or her own version of a Japanese word tattooed on her hand. “七輪指” translates to Japanese BBQ finger. One can hardly say that phrase without laughing I’m sure. To be honest, I didn’t know what a shichirin grill was until last summer, when Japanese people started using them more often and I’d ask them how they spent their weekends. But who gets a tattoo of a foreign language without doing research or asking a native person what the meaning of the word before inking it permanently on their body?  That is just your own fault if you happen to be that haphazard, like buying a used a car without test driving it or worse.  I don’t think what Ariana did is appropriation. All people can use kanji in whatever stupid ways they choose unless it hurts others. I think actually her tattoo is a public lesson for others. It’s not appropriation so much as it is exoticism. Her song lyrics from the BBQ grill song are “Like my hair? Just bought it” and there are documentaries Abt how hair extensions are acquired through unsavory means from women of developing countries for shit prices. So she deserves the pain and mockery from her tattoo. You can’t just “want it, like it, BUY it.”  I can’t help but think of how this blog and the title of my one woman show was called “Memoirs of an Urban Geisha” and how I owned that brand for a good decade or so. I was nothing close to a geisha.  Oiran and geisha were actually trafficked into sex work and I wasn’t.  I had no real experience of past or present day life in Japan and I was just using my ancestry as authority of culture when really, I was just being as ignorant about the issue as Ariana Grande was. Having lived now over two years in Japan, I’m able to contextualize everything more.  Before Ariana there was Katy Perry on stage in her hip modern fashionable rendition of Japanese kimono and Chinese cheong sam. But the average person wouldn’t know that she is conflating Chinese and Japanese dresses and that her song and that she is bowing in the Thai Buddhist/Hindu style with her hands together.  I just tried to give Katy Perry a pass because “I’ve grown past this limited paradigm” but, er, the performance is still terrible because it attempts to pass as Japanese.   I learned a word recently in the wake of all of this translated to cultural plagarism.  文化の盗用 (bunka no touyou), but the reason why Japanese will hardly use it is because they don’t really understand living as a minority because in Japan, they are the dominant class and they are the ones being racist and xenophobic and ignorant if there are these similar kinds of problems in Japan, so its no surprise when they are asked what think about Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani or Ariana and they say its all “kawaii” and no problem.


Conflating Asian cultures under the guise of being Japanese or any one culture is problematic in a racist hegemonic media representation.  It has detrimental implications for the people who are parts of these cultures. Is Ariana’s tattoos the same thing? I dont think so. I think people are mostly laughing at her ignorance because it didn’t take too much for even non Japanese folks to deconstruct the fact that it was an unfortunate mistake whereas Katy’s dance and show seems like good ol Miss Saigon entertainment for the masses that is digestable in all of its innacurate face value.  She also is playing off the “submissive Asian female stereotype”  that I grew up battling in the 80s.  I now call it subordinate Asian female stereotype because I think submissives are willing, and Japanese aren’t submissive, they’re complacent to the power hierarchy.    Sure, I was ignorant about tattoo stigma in Japan when I got my kanji tattoos, but I didn’t grow up and I didnt’ expect to be having to face that stigma first hand at the time, mostly my ink art was meant to be viewed by people outside of Japan.  My mom and others were wrong about never being able to be accepted because of the fact I had tattoos.  (She’s readopted me and my sister) I can bathe in onsen and sento that don’t have the tattoo ban and they aren’t hard to find now with the internet.   I think it is interesting to note that Japanese people in Japan do regard most of these representations by American pop stars as cool and not offensive, but it has to be something really really touchy like say, the comfort women to get Japanese people to really get upset publically and tell you how they feel about something.  

I don’t judge other’s ignorance too harshly because, I too have been so ignorant of “my own” culture. And what I consider “my own” Japanese people do not consider me their own, so perhaps its forgiven, and I’m given the GP (gaijin pass) but I don’t see it this way (I prefer Nikkeijin and I think Nikkei need to know as much as they have time to know)… we can all do better.


sayonara sale

There is a TV show in Japan called “はじめておつかい” where toddlers are sent on errands like “buy cake” or “buy a fish for dinner” or “get your nails and hair done” at the Beauty Parlor in their neighborhoods ALONE (or seemingly alone, of course,there is a crew of 10 or so staff watching for the welfare at all times off camera).

 It’s actually really adorable and hilarious, and one of my favorite Japanese shows. It usually has a classic scene of them dropping a fish in the street and bursting into frustrated tears of anguish and desire to give the fuck up. I OFTEN feel like that 3 or 4 year old on this impossible mission when I have to do these seemingly impossible, logistical, legal adulting tasks in Japanese that is way too hard for me.  Trying to negotiate the ending of a lease in Japanese on their terms armed with my intermediate knowledge of the written and spoken word is difficult to say the least. Leaving the property manager fully flustered in the same exact way I was when I first moved in the place, except when I moved in two years ago, my Japanese was much worse. Today, for the first time in my adult life of paying bills, my electricity turned off because I didn’t pay the bill.  And this is the weekend that I am packing and moving, its the dead middle of Tokyo winter, 35 degrees outside and the heater won’t work because it runs on electricity. Nor is there hot water, refrigeration or a stove. Nice work Mariko. Last month, you were spending money like you would should and could always have that much in your account (manifest it! Believe it! LIve it!), traveling and seeing family, friends, and making amazing art and rejuvenating your long lost soul purpose as an artist, for once not letting money be the fucking barrier that it usually is.  How dare you. The highlight of the night, if not the week was eating cannabis and deciding to destress in one of the best thing Japanese cities and towns have going: the bathhouse. Especially the one a few train stops down from me is really a luxurious treat that I forget to indulge in because it is a few stops and a not so short bike ride from my house. The tubs at this bathhouse have one that is outdoors with frosted high fencing right near the train tracks so it feels like the train flies right passed you bathing but it’s a good 25 meters away from you. I stepped on the scale and I’m exactly the same weight as I’ve been for the entire too chubby for Japan year even though my clinic doctor whom I am obligated to chat with every month because I need chronic asthma medication.  “You’re gaining weight, i see you all the time, so i can tell.” he said. “Do you exercise?” ugh. This guy. The same doctor who told me that I might get AIDS from getting my tattoos in the next breath recommended me for English lessons to his wife, and she actually booked a lesson that same night, so i can’t be too mad. I know he means well, he’s in his sixties or seventies and i’m sure means well, so i don’t fault him for it. I’ve developed an ability for not taking what Japanese people say about me too seriously. I’m on the verge of another big change here. Moving out of the solo apartment adventure that I got being the Tantra coach to a very strange and difficult client who miraculously gave me more money than any client had given me in many years. It was one of many many miracles that occured for me as I began my journey in Japan.  It was a great set up to a very difficult cultural acclamation. It wasn’t just that I was a not fully fluent foreign born Japanese immigrant, but Backpage fully closed with the owner going to prison and clientele fell like the sky according to Henny Penny so I had to work full time in a regular job for the first time also in many many years.  Luckily, like last month, there were a few more well paid seekers over the years.


2018 Out with the Dog, in with the Boar!

In 2018 I spent a whole year in Japan working and living in my own apartment for the 2nd year in Meguro.  In August, I decided on a whim to go to Australia with a day stop in Fiji.  Second year in Japan since arrival in June 2016, 5 months in the U.S makes 2 years.  I’ve set a goal to leave by May 1, 2019.

img_0010August 2018 Australia: Operation Upward Mobility Down Under.  Kinda failed but it didn’t really fail if I wasn’t homeless or hurt in any way I suppose.  I managed to meet “some dude” who invited me into his apartment as quick as he kicked me out.  A nice reminder of my old life and all the trauma that was included in the fast paced no love hustle life.  I didn’t manage to have any sex work clients but I did manage to smoke weed all week for the first time in a really long time and walk along Newtown and Bondi for the first time since I was 21 years old.  When I went to Fiji, had a club full of Fijian dudes surrounding me, which is the energy that I am used to, even the energy that I THRIVE off of. I had to leave Japan to find out if i was still attractive to men.  The fact that I could no longer feel that masculine polarity was scaring me so I booked a flight on a credit card and went to Sydney to try to make that money. But. I had ZERO clients, but perhaps it was fate. In my heart, I know that I don’t really want to do prostitution any longer.  But it was an experiment to see if I COULD do it again. This was a trip to prove that I was still attractive, and despite sex work not working out, I still left feeling good about myself with enough information to know that Japan was the environment that was killing my vibe. In my mind, I can, especially when there is a survival urgency.  I charged the entire trip on my credit card because that was how bad I wanted to change my life. Did I change my life? Not in the way that I wanted, but I did accomplish finding out if I still “had it” even though I actually didn’t date successfully for free or for cash, but I did realize the finer things in life don’t include sex work or money.  (free art, beaches, weed and nice people). I also found out that cashiers talking to strangers was not just an American thing, it was just not a Japanese thing. I miss small talk. I suppose it makes me feel like I am alive.

I still get lost in Shinjuku station.  I just found out that the Oedo and Keio lines are the same color (dark pink).  But once I figure it out, I figure it out. I’m proud of the fact that I was able to reconcile my attendance at my Friday Shinjuku class even though I was so late on the first day of class that I had to just go home because I couldn’t find it the school that I’d been to twice before.  My phone bill wasn’t paid on time so the GPS and use of the data was non functional, i couldn’t look up the map or the address from the email. I’ve since made it to the class on time every time since and I’m happy that these students love me. I’m proud of the fact that I am loved by most of my students.

I’m proud of my Nursery School teaching job.  The students are so loveable.  I wouldn’t be able to do this job without being able to speak Japanese well enough to communicate to the staff.  I researched Japanese nursery rhymes to translate to ESL. It is really hard to teach a foreign language to kids who can barely speak their own native language nor read or write.  

I’m proud that I got to snowbord twice already in 2018.  I’ll be happy if I go up there just once or twice more since in 2017 I was only able to go once due to lack of funds.

I taught a Jpop singer how to sing Carpenters songs.  Again, despite my imperfect fluency in this language, I can still get work with native Japanese speakers and communicate well enough to convince them that I can teach them.

I forced myself to master speaking on the phone in Japanese.  I got a small job working for an American paragliding company.  It was something like an internship for a few weeks but that helped me to get more practice speaking.

I’m proud that I learned how to teach Phonics ESL starting from the Shuf*notomo school which I was crying and fretting over to quickly mastering.  It was so much like a flashback to 1st year of teaching which was resolved 10x quicker than that period of student teaching, which took almost 5 months to master.  

I’m happy I got to visit parts of Japan that I had not seen before: Nikko, Izumo, Izu Shimoda, Yamaguchi, Matsuyama, Sanrio Purolando (the Hello Kitty amusement park!).

I’m happy that my sister and mom and I survived one of the biggest typhoons in Osaka unscathed and that we had a relatively good time together.  

I cut my hair short this year.  Right before the great Osaka typhoon hit, me and my mom and sister were getting haircuts nonchalantly.  A memorable day.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: I MADE NEW ART!   A whole body of artwork to have a new show with! Woot Woot!

I started a Patreon page.  www.patreon.com/marikopassion

I passed the JLPT N4.  I’m studying for my N3.  My Japanese level is pretty good.  Good enough to get a job. I can chat with someone on a 5 hour continuous bus ride.  I dated someone in Japanese, a few people actually. My mother refused to speak to me in Japanese on her recent Japan trip which was surprising because she had been writing me in Japanese for a few months before coming.  I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to attain knowledge of my culture and language despite her lack of support.

Got my first Japanese only speaking job.  Three of the bosses bullied me.  I told the boss that got me the job, not the restaurant managers about the situation and filed a complaint.  I don’t know where that is going to go as of now.  I stood up for myself however and that is almost unheard of in Japan.  I want to get another better Japanese speaking job, but I’m traumatized.

2018 ended on a great note.  I hung out with a friend I hadn’t hung out with in over fifteen years.  I took them to an Yebisu Garden tower restaurant where there is a lovely view, I knew because I used to work there.  I rang the temple bell of the Good Luck Business Cat (Manneki Neko) and then went off to a club I randomly selected to go to til the morning hours.  I met a nice Japanese/Korean guy and he was really young and sweet to me.  It is very rare to find a Japanese guy who will let a female be female and actually pay for things, open doors and be nice.  I go to clubs alone nowadays just assuming that I will probably go home alone because Japan has just been this way for me.  We had good sex, fun with drugs and watched an Oiran movie on Netflix which is the subject of my recent artwork, and Oiran were the courtesans of Japan from 200 years ago.  Every foreign country person including myself, wrongfully coining myself “urban geisha” didn’t know that it was the Oiran who were the real sex workers of Japan at the time.  They were actually trafficked as children into a lifetime of brothel life but that is going to be the subject of my future art exhibition and artist talks.  I ended 2018 with a Tantra client and that allowed me to create new artwork including a wedding to myself and my first kimono photoshoot of my adult life.  I was able to travel out of Tokyo, including way down south to visit a cousin I hadn’t really hung out with before who is a monk and see a part of Japan that I hadn’t seen before.  December was really the highlight of 2018, because of Tantra, which unlike sex work is not just work but my spirituality and my life force I was able to become more whole, make my client more whole and fill my soul not just in the moment but as I submit artwork and writing to exhibitions and develop work for the future it will fill me for years to come beyond 2018.



So you wanted a Japanese speaking job

So you wanted a Japanese speaking job? Not the kind of job that you currently have where you speak Japanese 20% of the time as a teacher, using all your bilingual skills to translate well known Japanese nursery rhyme songs into English with kids so they don’t have to think twice about the fact that they’re actually learning translations and code switching without thinking about it, no, no, you wanted a Japanese job where they treat you like the lowest cog on the totem pole of the hierarchical system that teaches them to bow in the face of shit being thrown in their faces. You wanted a Japanese job where you didn’t understand all the commands being told to you, where you had to move in one direction but you didn’t know which direction or where to put the things where and how but you couldn’t ask them to repeat what they said or speak slower because they would be even more upset than they were before you entered the kitchen. I feel like I just got adopted into some foster home, but I wanted this. A 100% Japanese speaking job which truly tested my fluency, and demanded that I work on my feet for 6 hours with no break after a 4 hours of teaching. “Learning a language takes time.” said one of my online students,”I’ve been in Sweden for 3 years and my English and Swedish are still not so great!” he smiled at me. “Yes. I know that!” I reflected back at him an equal smile and we held each other in our lack of language ability in the countries that we were living in. “I’ve been studying Japanese on and off since I was 12 and living in Japan for over 2 years.” Every hard situation in Japan seems to just get harder because i ask for it to get harder. I take the hard road in hopes that I will accelerate my improvement, but it always seems like I’m never going anywhere fast. Maybe, just maybe I have. It’s really hard to tell when you are in the dark flurry of slaying things in the lion’s den because you are just swinging your sword, hoping for the best, trying to keep up. I do remember 2 years ago when I went to the ATM trying to deposit the rent that was due for my apartments first and last security deposit that it was so hard to figure out how to read all the different names of the screens that weren’t waiting for my literacy to catch up as they were flashing kanji and buttons to press and timing out and making me start over from the beginning. I remember that day being one of the hardest days of my Japan life, and now that I’ve leaped over that hurdle at least 50 times by now, it has indeed become easy to withdraw, transfer and make deposits at the Japanese ATM. And, no, you can’t use the English menu for banking, and I don’t want to anyway.  English only speakers, I just don’t know how they even survive because the English menu is often totally different than the Japanese one and you can’t even do the same functions that you need to survive in Japanese Japan. So, I finally got a Japanese job in Tokyo and I was originally hired with a lot of promise and a recommendation but it didn’t take the staff long to get really mad at me for being at the level that I was at. I didn’t know where things went, and I forgot them when I was told once. I didn’t speak Japanese fluently and my semi fluency just wasn’t cutting it for them because they didn’t have the patience to teach me both where to put the pots and pans, wash dishes fast enough and learn new words. I’ve already learned a lot in 3 weeks that I could never have learned unless I got this job. I’ve learned menus, and polite hospitality speak, how to work the dishwasher and coffee maker, how to stack glasses and how to not stack certain glasses, and most importantly that Japanese workers greet each other with Ohayogozaimasu in the evening when they FIRST see each other regardless of whether it is morning or not. Valuable inside information. And yeah, its hard and I’ve woken up sore, but I haven’t cried yet, even though I have been 75% fired, meaning 3 of the 4 days per week that I was originally scheduled were dropped because I just can’t do what they need. And, that’s just fine. I was exhausted every day and night anyway. I felt like I was making license plates in jail and people on Facebook were worried about me because the way I was talking about it sounded like I was crying for rescue. But there are very few outlets aside from my Facebook in which I can express these things. Aside from this blog.


Avoid and Detach

October is here and I am feeling that my mood is dropping with my income.  It’s been a year since I have gotten sick which is a great thing considering it is going to be medical mask season in Japan in no time.  I’ve been spending time looking for jobs in Hawaii and in greater Japan to see what the future holds. The more I think about being a Tantra goddess in Hawaii and smoking weed everyday, the more my mouth waters with excitement.  I deserve to be joyful at least. I was in a short relationship recently but now it is over after about 3 weeks. I have the tendency to attract avoidant detachers, and learning about this particular relationship theory really has saved me from a lot of pain and hurt in the recent past.  My last love affair with an avoidant in Okinawa ended also abruptly as it had started and it hurt a lot more than this one but in the wake of it I researched this particular set of relationship theories and was able to see a great long pattern of this that started in high school and I actually could feel myself heal. From the age of 15 to 40, I blamed myself for them abandoning ship and it devastated me for long periods that long outlasted the short period of time that they were ever able to spend with me which varied from a week to a month or two at most.  This last guy told me “well, you want to get married and have kids” so that just blah blah blah, I don’t even know what he said after that because I focused on the former sentence. He read my blog posts and determined that I wasn’t a good partner for him because I dared to want a family. I think my other Special Dismissive Detacher Head ex boyfriend also would say things like that to me “you want a Disney relationship”, making the fact that I wanted a child or marriage a negative thing.  While I agree that Disney in many ways is a problematic ideal, the idea of a Disney type of LOVE union is no different than other tales of pair bonding: Shakti and Shiva, Romeo and Juliet, JayZ and Beyonce etc and the idea of wanting that to be made out to be something wrong is what is wrong actually.   The Disney ideal to him also referred to monogamy and marriage, which that ex was firmly against.   I believe it can be a terrible negative to these types of attachers. It has occurred to me a year or so ago that if I actually wanted to ever make the dream of being a mother come true, I need to move out of Japan, I’m fairly convinced the baby daddy does not exist on this island.  An English student of mine who is the same age as me just had a miscarriage and that also hit me like a reality bomb. I’m probably not going to have kids, Am I Universe?  I’m just going to entertain them part time as a nursery school teacher at best?  Is this my fate?  My recent student is married and stable but the same age as me: 42.  Having kids is not something that I dedicated enough of my life making happen even up until now.  It has always just been an idea  mainly because I am MOSTLY SINGLE!  Therefore “making kids” is not something i could have practically dedicated my life to unless it was through intentional random pairing (I know a single mother who did this long ago) or the unconventional fertilization route (which, one of my friends who is a single mother pursued for more than five years from age 35-42).  I guess I am too scared to be a single mother having been raised single and also been so economically unbalanced just taking care of myself.  My two chosen daughters are also single mothers in their twenties and it doesn’t seem like a life I want badly enough to dedicate so much effort to be actually.  If any model I dreamed of, it wasn’t Disney, it was JayZ and Beyonce, working as a power couple (or their media projected images of family) and parental team.  I proposed it to my two gay bff couple, who have been a pair for over 7 years and they rejected the queer family idea almost 5 years ago.  They still seem to be living with just enough to enjoy weekends income, not yet married, no assets and taking care of their families with their middle class incomes which means, no desire to make room for a baby.  I haven’t even committed to having a dog, even that I lived in the same place for 11 years. My income was always unstable, even then. It seems that I made it all the way across the ocean only to replicate the same pattern that I lived in in a totally different career in LA.  Prostitute-Victim-Rescuer Triangle (this is a DEEP one that I want to dedicate a whole post on later) . Oh, wait, I never saw myself as a victim even tough I was, or was I, or am I? Or are we ALL one breath away from a change in our status.   Oh, wait, I’m an English teacher now which is the same as being a college student counting change and eating convenience store food to save money. That feeling I experienced when I could actually feel myself healing needs to happen with my money story.  I feel like I am teaching my ass off and going to interviews weekly like they are another job. There is no rest for the normal worker, this which I swore I would never be again when I quit teaching the first time. I am working hard to sow my resources using all the skills that I have and always spending my free time to search for better ways, yet change is very slow and sometimes I even fear not having enough change to get to my next job site on the train because the train fee is so expensive.  The thought of staying in Tokyo living this same life for another two years is too damn depressing because I believe that change will not come because Japanese culture and society has yet to change in many ways that I believe are basic human needs.  It feels like a marriage that I am trying to make work even though I know that it already isn’t. I truly believe I could make Japan work better from afar than from within. Maybe this is wishful thinking because I can’t seem to make it work from within. Some relationships just cannot work no matter what.  This is what we have to learn to accept and release. I found, just like with my last lover that it was easy to leave something that wasn’t working. He actually abandoned me, stuffed all my CDs (that he had wonderfully uploaded and ripped to digital for me) in my mailbox and left a long winded 6” goodbye message via messenger but I was still able to go on with my weekend without any tears which is an enormous sign of growth I think.  AVOIDANT DETACHERS ARE GOING TO DETACH SOON REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU LOVE, HOW YOU FUCK, WHAT YOU SAY OR DON’T SAY.  This is the lesson.  It doesn’t have to do with me and there is nothing I can do to stop it.   I learned this JUST LAST YEAR.  I used to meet a guy at Burningman well into my thirties, spend the night with him and be devastated because he didn’t want to continue hanging out with me in love for the week or even pursue a relationship after the playa.  It is possible.  The Special Detacher ex found the love of his life as his rideshare passenger for Burningman, so don’t say it’s not possible.  It literally took me years to let go when others wanted to let go.  Not saying that I have this skill perfected at all, but in understanding that a pattern in humanity exists, not just a pattern in my own faulty design or inabilities,  I have noticed a new dawn.


Addicted to Poverty

Things are definitely better this week.  I paid my rent and I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is going to come from.  My addiction to poverty had reached an all time low last week. I received my usual second paycheck direct deposit from the company that usually gives me enough teaching work to pay my rent submitted an amount that was a pitiful half of what was required to pay my rent for the due date that week.  I was out of positive affirmations and miracles. I was out of ideas. I was going to interviews at least once a week in a Japanese business suit with my best foot forward and excelling in two languages, using previous work experience to answer expert questions and yet, somehow only had 200 yen to buy a canned convenience store cocktail to celebrate after exerting all that pressure and energy to succeed in the real world.  I’d been here before in Los Angeles. Wifi had been cut off and I was placing escort ads and writing and trying to do art work at Denny’s, collecting EBT, seeing clients I was not proud to see and wishing that I could just die somehow trying to live. Almost a decade later, working as a teacher/writer/lecturer in Tokyo my outlook was not so grim but yet, I was in such a similar position financially somehow. I couldn’t understand if I had progressed or somehow just made a big 12 year circle.  I couldn’t ask my mom for money, she had already given me money when I first came back to Japan. I had already endured the shame of having one’s rent paid by their mother at the age of 41. The next lower step was to ask the sister who had money who, no matter what I ever did in life, since we were kids despised me and wished I was never born. “Hey, uh, I don’t know who else to ask, but, do you think you could spare $1000? I know that mailing my mail to Japan is enough strain on you already and you complain that I have to use your address to receive a little mail but maybe if you had some cash to pay my rent that might, uh, make our lifetime of strained and dysfunctional relating better right?”  Or maybe I’d have to ask both sisters to split my bill. They’d really love that one as I’m always portrayed as the loser with her hand out, as if asking my retired mother wasn’t enough last year. I was walking around like a zombie but still needing to teach my classes and students that day, trying to figure out what my next move was. A friend from the hafu Japanese club on Facebook, whom I’d never met offered to buy me a carafe of wine in the middle of the day at a Denny’s like diner equivalent in Japan. It was a wonderful gesture and it helped to bring a smile to my face because despite the fact that my income didn’t match my potential or my efforts, I really did feel like everything was just fine.  I had just been able to be so busy that it felt hectic like a bee, speed walking through Tokyo and eating on the train to get to the next student and then suddenly, I lost 3 twice weekly students with no immediate replacement. My attempt to make money in Australia, FAILED. My Tantra business was not proving to be immediately fruitful and since Australia, I was already opening myself to sex work again except that even THAT wasn’t working. It didn’t work in Australia, hostess bars in Japan were telling me I was too old or impossible and people just weren’t giving me the time of day. I was drinking a lot of wine but it wasn’t really helping. Wine is not weed after all and weed is something I need to get through dilemmas like this.  I discovered I wasn’t really addicted to marijuana, but what I seemed to be addicted to was poverty. “Come back to LA.” a Facebook friend said, “we miss you here.” I told her,”It doesn’t matter where I am or what I am wearing, poverty follows me like a shadow.” It’s something I need to excavate within it seems or it will be part of me forever.




And then…miraculously, similar to last year in the Philippines when I also had no money my friends came through with donations.  More than they did when I was visa jumping from Tokyo to Cebu to START my great Japan adventure. This was a two years after that time, so much and so little had changed.  One of my same friends came through with a good chunk just like last time to make sure I wasn’t homeless soon, but a lot of new people came through that had never donated before.  I was so grateful, humbled and touched. I made ONE video. Not even a formal crowd fundraiser at all. There were people that I had met in Japan and were friends with, some not even great friends with that contributed to my rent and living expenses fundraiser.  I made enough to get out of the red hot lava and swim to shore. The speed at which this all happened was phenomenal. “You got money.” emails from Paypal are always great, but especially in these times much much better. 

I don’t want to write about it much anymore because although I am grateful but, still ashamed. It’s terrible really and I’m glad that for the time being I can move on and I found that beyond this blog, I don’t really want to revisit it at all in my head or conversation.  

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