Friday, June 2, 2017

Current Thought Soup or You might say I'm a failure, but I'm not the only one...

So, as I embroider details into a felt model of Jupiter that will complete a project I've been working on for months, my mind is fighting itself over fairly inane things.

Like maybe all of my friends from high school seriously doubt my parenting abilities. But 1) they probably don't and 2) what does that even matter? I'm on the other side of the world from literally all of them, no one is coming to visit me from that group any time soon if ever...who cares?
This really relates back to this snarky perspective that keeps coming up in my mental stew and really needs to be put into character form in a novel so I can be done with it. Being insecure about things we've already found the logic to and know there's no reason to be hurt by is a waste of time and emotional energy.
Yet I still get that every once in a while, and it still doesn't matter. Thanks, brain.

Then there's thoughts regarding the project, ranging from how proud I am of the texturing I've achieved on the swirling clouds of the gas giant to how imperfect it all is and how no one would ever want this junk so what is wrong with me for continuing to put effort into projects like this when it is obvious I cannot ever make them work the way I want them to.

On the upside, Julia's asleep and the week is over, save for teaching and Julia's music class tomorrow. This week I didn't realize there was an event that required her sports uniform Tuesday, so she went out in the wrong uniform. Wednesday was extremely busy for me (run to Sendai for a private lesson, then take the train halfway home and stop to refresh the book selection for a private family lesson, then home in time for Julia to come home followed by a private lesson that had to be moved from Thursday to accommodate a fancy dinner with my in-laws) so I goofed and sent her out in the sports uniform for Thursday, which was of course wrong. Then Thursday came and my husband had the day off and I was so distracted by him and all the other stuff that had to be done to prepare for the dinner that I put her in the regular uniform instead of the sports uniform and my husband did not understand why I didn't make a bus of children wait 10 minutes while I brought her up to change instead of just sending her off on the bus in the wrong outfit as I had.

This morning, Friday morning, we had the right outfit, save for the hat which I completely forgot. But hey, fitting end I'd say. I then treated myself to a little coffee and Greek yogurt from the grocery store before meeting up to go to teach at a different kindergarten as part of yet another part-time job.

Thursday night's dinner went really well. It was meant to commemorate the death of my grandmother-in-law, who passed last year. We had to go get Julia a new dress and shoes for the affair, since we were meant to be in formal black attire.

The restaurant was an upscale place in Izumi, the rich suburb of Sendai, and offered Kyoto-style food served by kimono-clad staff in fancy separate dining rooms. This was nice, but I don't know what the staff are thinking in regards to dish placement.
Traditional or fancy Japanese meals tend to use a bunch of different tiny dishes, and we arrived 5 minutes late, so everyone was already seated, with our spaces open on the other side. My daughter sat between my husband and I with my in-laws, including Grandpa, on the other side. It is important to note here that Grandpa is from my mother-in-law's side, not the husband of the deceased. His wife is also deceased, but that's a different story from some time ago. As I recall from 2011, when we all shared a living space for a few weeks, the two of them did not get along too well. They didn't fight like anyone in my family, but things sometimes came out with a snarky tone, not that I could understand everything but I have been around enough family drama in my time to be able to get the idea of what's going down to some extent.
At Thursday night's dinner, Grandpa made a point of reading a little something (that I understood none of but seemed heart-felt and somber) regarding the deceased before we ate, and I felt that was really special.

So anyway, back to the dishes. They bring in drinks- orange juice for everyone in tall glasses with fluted mouths, and proceed to place them at the very corners of the table, so mine is right off of my right elbow. Then they place a bunch of smaller dishes around. Then they bring the children's bento for my daughter and ask that my husband and I move all the shit they just put into the place in front of my daughter so that they might place the bento box down. There isn't space and as my mind decides I am troubling the poor waitress, I rush a little in moving all of the things. I barely feel a nudge at my elbow and turn to see the fluted glass falling in slow motion, knowing I'm powerless to stop it as it empties its contents on the floor. Lucky, the room was not carpeted and my mother-in-law apologized as I was too embarrassed to speak while also being pissed off at whoever's stupid idea it was to place the glasses at the damn corners and then ask us to move all the shit they put out.

So I spent about 10 minutes feeling like a massive failure, but I did not cry. Instead I focused on the messed up task of trying to feed the fussy child while she climbs out of the chair and attempts to play with everything she can find before spitting rice directly onto my made-up face. I never wear make-up, so this was especially unpleasant for me.

The food was beautiful and some of it quite delicious. Everything was made better by a few small interactions. No one freaked out when I scooped the tiny fish from my rice bowl onto my husband's portion or when I openly handed him the chunk of iced tofu they served in the first course. In fact, my father-in-law made it a point to give me the au gratin dish from his specialty meal so that I could enjoy something they knew I could eat. Also, there was laughter.
They served a soup, and like many fancy places that do this, the soup served in a bowl over a candle, which you were to then ladle into your own separate service-ware despite everyone having their own soup-and-candle thing. After serving myself, I was unsure of the temperature and checked by licking a large chunk from the soup. My tongue darted back in as the soup was too hot, and then my father-in-law started laughing. I laughed too, acknowledging it was a little bit of a silly gesture, licking the soup. He then said that he had done the exact same thing, and suddenly I didn't feel like such a failure.

So this week was long and tricky and my brain is trying to jump in a dozen different directions, but for now I am going to sit back and relax.

And maybe finish Jupiter.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, May 8, 2017

And it ALL SUCKS again. But I'm Still Here.

Golden week is over, and we mostly just relaxed at home, sometimes with friends. We also went out to Sendai once and watched all the Marvel movies we missed courtesy of Amazon streaming with Tomo on his one day off during the week.

Then came today, a day I was so looking forward to. I've noticed that a lack of time spent alone makes me somewhat more irritable than usual. I don't like snapping at my toddler for little reason, so I was really happy about having time to recharge...
And then she was sick,

She had a bit of a fever, so Tomo called off the school bus and I surrendered my plans for the day, keeping an eye on her temperature.
I also needed a walk. I also needed to relax somehow. I also needed a bit of time away from the hyper-yet-feverish kid, and in the end I screwed everything up by not alerting my in-laws the second her temp was over 38 (it oscillated between 37.5 and 38.1, making me wary of our equipment's readings) and rushing to the hospital. In Japan, this visit is free and the medicine is free, but everything must be done before 10:30 AM, which it wasn't.

Around 11, Tomo came home, called his parents, got us picked up and went back to work. Julia was right at 39. We went off to the hospital, which told us we were too late, then to the clinic where we got flu shots before. The doc fit us in just before lunch and took a nose swab, which came back in a few minutes confirming 1) a viral presence and 2) not the flu. He wrote us a little prescription and we went across the street to get it filled.

Because it was our first time at that pharmacy, we had to fill out a questionnaire and I discovered something new: My Mother-in-law is apparently tired of my shit.
Tomo fills out all the paperwork for everything we do. He chose the complex kanji for our daughter's name. I can't even read the questions on this form, and my mother-in-law is just looking at me, asking why I can't fill it out on my own.
I tell her I don't know Julia's kanji. I don't tell her that I spent the weekend filling out submission forms to the grocery store's seasonal write-in contest, where my kanji for my fairly complex address has improved greatly, but is still awkward. I did not explain how little time there is for study when I am trying to do all the other things they want me to do (lose 80 pounds, clean the house, maintain sanity) and take care of the three-year-old. I still don't even know where she caught this stupid virus.
My MIL, exasperated, writes the form in sloppy kanji. She read and tried to simplify the form for me to circle the answers on. A lot of it was not actually understandable to me. By this point, my embarrassment was verging toward self-loathing.
There was a question about allergies.
According to a recent blood test, Julia is not allergic to anything. This is in spite of the fact that she breaks out in hives every time she eats anything with the tiniest amount of peaches in it. Apparently that's not an allergic reaction in this case, and apparently this isn't weird in Japan. Some kids have immune systems that have to get used to certain things (egg whites and some kinds of fruit) which usually happens after a few years. The most you can do is treat the symptoms by having some medicine (not over-the-counter) on hand for those times. All of Julia's medicine for her peach-related attacks has been used.
We marked "No" on the allergy form and went on. We got the medicine, my MIL spent $6 on that and some cool packs for my daughter's head and the back of her neck, and we went on our way.
Under the guise of assistance, my MIL brought the 2 extremely light bags of things up to the apartment where she got to peek into my messy living room and appraise my lack-luster cleaning skills.

In my defense, I couldn't get crap done with Julia home all week and did actually manage to clean well enough to have a decent gathering for Star Wars Day, so I did my best. This was not a hell-hole.

Still I know she would never let anyone she loved live in such a place.

And I am trying my best.

But it just isn't good enough.

I never felt this way in school. Ever. Like seriously, even when I barely studied for Hellenistic Greek at 8AM, I felt more confident walking into that mid-term and final than I have ever felt in this hard-core Japanese Housewife Skills Test that is my everyday life and that I so thoroughly suck at.

And it doesn't really matter what I do, see? If I think we need a walk and we take a walk then obviously we should have stayed home and called everyone we know to discuss the readings on the thermometer. Whatever the situation is, I should assess the answer choices and immediately eliminate anything that makes sense to me, choosing only the most stressful or peculiar option.

I started having time to myself last month, so I started walking a lot and trying to jump-start this weight loss thing, acknowledging that it is probably the longest process in the multi-pronged list that is left between my current position and the expectations I am failing to meet.
Cleaning and organizing has also begun, including finally cleaning off the dining table and building a small book shelf with Hana's help. More salads, fewer carbs, constantly checking my daughter's uniform for spots to clean...I'm not exactly drowning in actual free time. I am trying to do all of the things.

And I am failing.

So, while Julia ate her lunch and I washed the dishes in the sink, I battled through some dark contemplation. I pulled myself back to the present long enough to get Julia to take her medicine and deliver her a tiny ice cream from the fridge as a reward.
I rinsed and de-labeled the plastic recycling while by brain dove back into less pleasant topics. When the recycling in the house was done, a tiny surge of accomplishment stirred within. Coming out the other side of internalized-garbage-land, I elected to write down some things I would like to see/do before I die. For this I chose the front page of my schedule book, where I will see this list every time I open the book. The biggest and boldest item there is USING THE WHOLE HOARD, which I later realized would of course take more than an afternoon. I hoard crafting supplies and fabric. This is not a short-term goal, but it should be done before I am incapacitated, pregnant again, or dead-- I would be saddling someone else with sorting through or trashing all that junk otherwise and I would rather have it all used.
The goal is to make stuff people actually want or need out of all the things without replacing the hoard.

Julia fell asleep on the couch after finishing her late lunch. I also chose to take a nap, which ended abruptly when Julia woke up after an hour. My mood had improved a bit.
I got Julia to drink more fluids and noticed that her wrist was covered with hives. Thankfully we still have medicated cream and after using it on the splotches, Julia appears to be free of the itchy bumps. Around this point, I decided finally that I could eat something, so I had a bowl of granola. The only way I thought I could even attempt to do what all they want in the time frame they have in mind is through starvation, but with more logic alive in my mind, I know that way lies madness. And fever. Whatever virus Julia caught will kick my ass if I don't keep myself fed and healthy.

So now we're here and I am talking online about things I don't really want everyone knowing but at the same time, if this helps anyone else re-assess and choose life, then it deserves a place in cyberspace.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


This month has been amazing.

First it was the sprint of kindergarten preparation, the last of which occurred only in the midnight hours before the entrance ceremony as I finally got to watch the episode of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders in which James Kyson appears.

Then it was the first week of school, which meant getting used to the time schedule for the kindergarten's school bus, which is not a public bus-- essentially a long van specific to this kindergarten. Every school in the area has one.
Then Julia wasn't eating lunch so I started waking her up even earlier and setting a time limit for our breakfast so she would be done by 7:30AM, therefor hopefully hungry by noon. Seems to be working somewhat.
Also, when she gets home, I check her silverware for signs of usage (bits of food, etc) and if it comes back pristine, she gets a lecture instead of a snack. And then a snack, too. I'm not a monster.

So then it was Easter and the event I'd been planning for months finally got to occur-- slightly wonky in delivery but fun for all involved and that is the most important part. A friend from college even came up here from her home closer to Tokyo to be part of the festivities, which meant so very much to me.

She is, genuinely, the first person from my college life to see me in this part of Japan. I have had other friends visit, but none from my days at TCU. And truth be told, I wouldn't be here without her and her sister's influence in my college life. Previous to our friendship, I knew nothing of Japanese pop culture. I would never have known the attractiveness of certain male pop stars had they not intervened. Tomo should really send them a thank you letter.

Anyway, so that was pretty wonderful. We got to sit under the cherry blossoms and enjoy Shiogama Shrine with kids and giant plastic Easter eggs (thanks to Hana and Taiyo, who hid them for Julia), and I spent way too long trying to make steampunk outfits for tiny people, but we all for to play dress up for a minute and have a great time, so it was all worth it.

That was Sunday.
Monday was windy and cold by comparison, but I went to bid farewell to my friend and her daughter in Sendai. That visit really means more to me than I can properly explain. The profoundness of the event coupled with my current mental state (mucus) leaves me inadequate to describe the feeling. Grateful is too small a word.

My plan had been to go find some sakura to sit under and read poetry in Sendai that afternoon, but the chill in the wind and my growing head-cold sent me home, though I still read poetry on the train, so it was still a good day for reading.

Today is Tuesday and I had several plans earlier but they had mostly gone to pot under the coughing fits occasionally attacking me now-- the last bits of this head cold thing-- so I elected to stay home and chat with friends. As that finished in the morning, the weather was so nice outside, I couldn't help but go for a walk, and it turned out that Hana was free, too. I put on a mask and we started walking and wound up on an adventure! I hatched two Pokemon eggs, we walked so far!

Good times. Amazing times.

I find the political world terrifying right now, the threat of nuclear war and other disasters imminent as the man-child-monster in power keeps his psychotic tirade going, but every once in a while I have a few of these amazing days and really feel like life has value, that the world can survive whatever is going on out there.
Maybe it can. Maybe it can't. Either way, we've got to enjoy what we can while we can.
And fight fascism. Always.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Julia's Kindergarten Entrance Ceremony

My laziness in preparation was astounding. We bought the uniform months ago, and all other materials needed a few weeks later. My mother-in-law even gifted us a fantastic name-stamp set in with Julia's name in hiragana in 7 different sizes with fast-drying ink, as if she heard the voice inside me freaking out beyond reason about the possibilities when it came to labeling the materials. (Hiragana, right? But it could be kanji, I mean, she has kanji so... Would they accept romanji? No, that would make her look foreign. Family name first, of course...right? Or am I overthinking it? What if I choose the wrong pen? The ink could bleed or wash off! What if it ruins her uniform and we have to spend more money that we have on getting replacements?! What if I bankrupt us over a sharpie!)

Yeah, that's me. Nice to know I didn't lose all the neurotic behavior of my youth when I gave birth, I guess.

So I got these stamps and all the materials, and did nothing about any of it, instead throwing myself into 3 or 4 other projects in the meantime, making baby pants out of socks and sweaters, turning second hand clothing with muted tones in to steampunk-toddler wear, and planning out a solar system themed mobile for my friend's new born...
And not Julia's clothing. Not even a little. Just, like, no.

Friday night, my in-laws drove us back from my evening class and dropped us off at our place, congratulating Julia on the next day's actiuvities and that was when it coccurred to me...
I had not labelled the things. At all.

For those uninitiated to the Japanese kindergarten material labeling system, every single thing your kid brings to school has to be labelled with their first and last name (also which class they are in, if the school is big enough. Luckily ours is not) and I do mean everything. Every crayon, and the crayon carrying case. Every marker, too. Every piece of their uniform, from the bow-tie to the blouse, jacket and skirt. Every utensil in their lunch kit. Each chopstick.
Not every grain of rice, thankfully, but we're also going to a school that provides the food, so yay, no bento stuff for me to learn just yet.

So it is kind of a big deal and I spent more than an hour with that stamping kit out, figuring out what to stamp and where and which size stamp to use. I then had to iron some name labels onto some things that didn't have them.
Then it came to the shoes and I couldn't remember where the indoor school-shoes got labelled. I asked my husband. "Across the strap." he said, and I was sure I hadn't seen that but decided I didn't care enough to fight at the point and labeled them across the front strap.
No one else at the school has their name labeled there. Many do on the back strap- the tiny cloth bit that juts up from the very back of the shoe. Oh well.

So I did all of this and fell asleep holding Julia while reading Dr. Seuss in our bed at 11.
My body woke up to freak out about ironing at 4:30AM. So it began.

I ironed and ironed and finally it all seemed okay. Julia got up and I got her to eat something and use the bathroom. We finally got Tomo up to check what the worksheets said we needed and to label a few things I somehow missed the previous evening.

Then we got ready and went.
It was refreshing to see how much variation there was in the dress and behavior of the moms. Some were on top of their kids and wearing the white suits I was told were standard verging on mandatory for this sort of event. Many were more relaxed in gray and black ensembles. One of the dads even collapsed his fat butt on the tatami in the play room, reclining like he was at an izakaya (traditional style bar/pub), which made me feel a little more presentable as I wasn't lounging around and neither was my husband.
Though my husband tried to listen to the teacher and translate for me, he only got excited enough to bother translating stuff I found obvious and already understood. 

The teacher holds up a small clear plastic bag and says "kusuri" which means medicine. Yeah, this is for medicine. She goes on to explain that you needn't put a whole bottle of any medication in there. A couple of doses will do fine (obviously in some tiny bottle-container you can probably get at the 100 yen store).
My husband turned to me, excited. "This is for medicine."
"Yeah, I know kusuri." I said.
"Fine then. I won't translate anything for you."

He says this right after I asked him about some notebooks that I didn't understand the purpose of that the teacher just described, that he did not explain at all.
Whatever, dude. More reason for me to start studying in earnest, when I finally have time to focus starting this coming week.

This was all after the actual ceremony, when all the entering students were made to sit in small chairs in the middle of the gymnasium/auditorium and listen to the principal introduce his staff and give a short speech. 
Some kids cried and ran. A couple had to sit with their parents instead of with the group, while others had their moms right by them, sitting at the edge of the crowd of children.
Mine was okay, in the very middle, until she realized that she wanted to blow her nose. Then she got up and ran out of the group, all the way to the back to get a tissue from me. Then she went back.
Then she did it again.
And again.
And again.
She was by far the kid most in-and-out of her chair in the whole group, but at least she was mostly quiet and as I have learned from our foray into music class last year, this is better than it could be.
At the end, she was held by the son of the principal, who looked after her a bunch and seems a really decent guy. I totally thought he was a kindergarten teacher and was happily surprised to see a male in the role, which is super-rare in Japan. He even walked her over to get tissues from atop the piano while his father talked.
I felt embarrassed and awkward, but not to the extent I would have expected. I also felt like this is a place where they are unlikely to cause Julia physical harm, even when she's being a total jerk, the way spoiled toddlers often are.
I know the staff was on their best behavior, but it still seems like they were nicer than they had to be, but maybe that is also me in this culture of extreme politeness.

But that is a problem we may have for a while. The Japanese idea of killing it with kindness and mild guilt-tripping into conformity may not work well on my spoiled little person. She may not learn anything from that other than who she can exploit the most before they get ticked off. That's what she did later that day at my in-laws house, where we had a lovely lunch with my in-laws and Grandpa Nakamura, after which Julia unwrapped and handed out chocolates to everyone individually, except for Grandma, who is by far the nicest to her. I told Julia she should also give one to Grandma and she responded by handing her one, wrapped, so she had to be goaded into it and still did not give the same respect (unwrapping) as she did for the others in the group.

That's a problem we might have, that this method of instruction may not do much to tame my kid, but then again, maybe the staff are more strict sometimes. Maybe they do have ways of making her conform.

I'm not saying I want her to be a mindless Japanese robot child, but I have accepted that tomorrow she starts a journey into becoming more Japanese than she is American. I am going to have to fight to keep the English up at home, and to keep the American thought process going, too, but there is a lot I have no control over. She is going to be a little Japanese girl. Maybe one with American tendencies.

So now, I need to: Wash the already dirty uniform, finish another project, exhaust Julia so she goes to sleep and wakes up early enough to get on the bus, try to enjoy my last day with my daughter before she begins assimilation into a culture I will always be outside of...

And now I'm sad.
And laughing.
Parenting is a maddening process, isn't it?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

All the Upcoming Shenanigans

So many things going on! Here's a rundown:

Tomorrow I teachmy normal classes, then run off to Sendai for the last class with one of my private students.

The next day I take Julia and Hana to the park at Tsutsujugaoka to hand out free tea bags and cookies for our E4K-- Random Acts yearly fundraiser (for which I have received only one donation) and
I will not be collecting donations as I have no way of putting the donated money into the crowdrise situation-- no debit card or credit card here, only Paypal and not much in my paypal.

If you would like to contribute to some awesome projects, donate here.

Monday I have one lesson and one skype-date with my mom.

Tuesday I have a full afternoon of classes at a student's house and this will be the first time I have taught these lessons this way. It will be interesting.

Wednesday I actually have a day off and might trek down to Ogawara with Julia to see 1000 sakura trees...maybe not. We'll see.

Thursday we have a class in Sendai in the afternoon.

Friday things go back to normal with my evening class.

Saturday will be Julia's kindergarten entrance ceremony.

That Sunday might be a day off, I have no idea.

That Monday, Julia starts kindergarten and I finally get to clean my house in addition to trying to make costumes and other fun things for Steampunk Hanami: Easter Edition which we will be having on Easter Sunday, April 16th.

Fun times!

Too many things to do....

So here I go, off to do the things!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Fairly Excellent Day

Today was pretty awesome.

It's Wednesday, which means I have no classes and since Julia hasn't started school yet, it was one of our last chances for a day-long adventure without weekend crowds.

So we got ready and headed out to Sendai. We started with a pizza buffet lunch (at a place I had read about but never been to) which was pretty great actually. The pizzas were small and few offerings that I really enjoyed, but the tomato-moz-basil option and the basic cheese were both totally delectable. After picking up a slice of something green (too excited/hungry to bother reading the Japanese-only description written on a short note near the pizza) that I realized later was zunda (mashed raw soybean with sugar--a Sendai-specific sweet) I decided I had been adventurous enough and went with salad instead. The zunda wasn't bad, just not what I wanted on pizza.
Julia was free, but does not have any affinity for pizza, so I brought her some items from the small salad bar, all of which she rejected. I spied fruit-filled yogurt in the dessert area and brought it along, and she ate it-- or at least the yogurt. She carefully dodged each mango and pineapple chunk, carefully partaking only in the yogurt.
I later brought her more of just the yogurt and finished off her remaining fruit. I would later get her something she actually liked for lunch elsewhere.
There was also a free juice bar, and as I'm still harboring some post-nasal drip, I made the most of my $10/45minute beverage festival.
It was actually pretty great. A lot better than I thought it would be.

Then we walked through the arcade, with me trying desperately to catch the Farfetch'd Pokemon for my mom, and failing again. Again! The little blighter will not show himself.
I charged my phone at 3 different restaurants/coffee shops during the day trying to catch him. Could not make it work.
Oh well.
In the mean time, we went to the Owl Cafe, surprised to find it now the home of a meerkat and several rabbits in addition to the now adolescent miniature pigs and the same owls as before. I got to pet a fluffy owl.
And the meerkat.
And the marmoset.
Julia was freaked out a little because the meerkat was very curious about the smell of her slightly-wet pants. It was awkward, but not traumatic, so yay! They also have a twice-daily flying session, in which they put all the owl-prey away in cages and have three of their best trained owls fly across the room to perch on the gloved hand of an owl-cafe employee, only to have volunteers from the audience join the action afterward for the same interval. The barn owl perched on my left index finger, and I thought of David Bowie, and it was a good day.

Then it had been an hour and Julia was getting tired so we went for a little walk, still chasing and not finding the Pokemon. I found some pokestops that were lured, so I gravitated toward them but still couldn't catch my guy. In the process, I found a new favorite coffee shop, under an AU shop in a building that may have housed Zara back in 2011. I'm not really sure, but it was super convenient, with tablets at the same seating area as the outlets, so I could charge my phone while Julia played with ice and watched a few trial episodes of random innocuous anime.
It was rather excellent.

I kept stopping for lures, but never did find the guy. Instead I spent a little bit at a few places, buying coffee so my phone could charge while my daughter made small talk with every person who would look at her for more than 2 seconds. She is just that way. She stayed close to me today though, with no running off in random directions, so overall it was good.

Now we're home, and about to head out for some last minute groceries (and a last-ditch poke-walk of desperation...)

But the day had actually begun with me telling the Amanda Palmer facebook group that I was happy to be the unofficial Japan-guru but that I could not plan any more trips, and directing people who were interested in coming here to my previous blog post on the subject.
This may seem like me saying the same thing over and over to strangers who don't care, but in that group, anytime Japan is mentioned, someone seems to tag me, and most of the time it is no big deal. Yes, they have crazy chocolates. No, the fixing-broken-things-with-gold thing isn't really common these days and most people throw perfectly good electronics in the garbage when they get new ones. Yes, some people are pervs and the rate of harassment committed upon young women in this country (myself included-- in Nagoya, once) is appallingly high.
Anyway, most of this isn't a problem but as I said in the post before, I can't keep doing the planning craziness, and since I will put myself into that position, it is better if anyone planning a trip like that looks at my blog post and only bugs me if they want to head up this way.

I posted this to a group of 4000 people, only a handful of whom I know online and none have I met in person. I posted this with more than an inkling of trepidation, as I was sure, just like the Engrish discussion, someone would decide I was being an asshole for something that didn't seem asshole-y to me at all.

On the train back to Shiogama, I checked Facebook only to find a number of comments to my post, all positive. Some were people asking if they could meet me for coffee if they did get out to Sendai, to which I replied of course. Some were just celebrating the attempt to do something for my mental health. None were negative or strained or weird.
We'll see if that holds out, but it's nice to not feel like I cannot be understood.

Also, my city-cost blog post about lolita/punk/vk fashion in Sendai (with 2 pictures of your truly) has been posted.
See it here.
So...things went well. Yay!

Friday, March 17, 2017

So You're Coming to Japan...

I'm prefacing this by acknowledging the mucus content of my sinuses is screwing with my intellectual capabilities.

But my feelings keep getting hurt for no real reason and I'm going to put a stop to this.

So let's assume you're seeing the post as a response to the following situation:
"Oh  my god. I'm coming to Japan at some unknown point in the future and know nothing of where/when/how to go/do anything, HALP!"

This has come up too many times with friends and acquaintances and people I don't even know who somehow get referred to me for this solution. Being me, I then put hours into trying to help these people plan their adventure, providing lots of details and recommendations, offering frequently to personally guide people around Tohoku completely for free.

And then the same damn thing happens every time. They think about it and make the same damn decision that everyone else does. They see Tokyo, Kyoto, maybe Osaka, occassionally Nagoya. They will go and see the same things everyone else goes and sees and since no one goes to Tohoku, no one ever will.

Then I get to find out this information months later, if ever, and I always feel slightly trampled. I know they weren't solid plans, but I keep fucking offering my heart and soul to people who really just want to have the DisneyLand-Japan experience. Not Tokyo Disney, which is an actual theme park, but the theme-park style tourist experiences that EVERY TOURIST seems to have, because having your own authentic experience in this "exotic" country is verboten. Your experiences are only worthwhile if they are exactly the same as the ones everyone else has.
You went to Japan, huh? Did you see Sky Tree? Tokyo Tower? This one thing I saw in Tokyo? Did you go only to the places that I also went? Awesome.
And there are tons of people out there willing to provide their experiences that corroborate this trend. A friend (who did actually come up here for a couple of days in addition to seeing Tokyo and other places) posted on facebook that she was headed this way and several of her friends had places to recommend....all in Tokyo. "Oh, I've been there-- all the way from Akihabara to Asakusa..."

And I'm out here thinking, "Yeah, that's ALL JUST in Tokyo. Hmm. Kinda like there's not a country out here...Guess I don't live in Japan after all...Since I don't live in Tokyo..."

So, if you're asking me for advice, here's my advice. 

1.   Get a Japan Rail Pass (you have to arrange it and pay for it before you get here, but it's totally worth it for the days when you're travelling a lot)

2. Check Trip Advisor, Japan guide, or just freaking google whatever cities you are actually interested in. You could even check City-Cost, where I sometimes blog about Tohoku, for information from other foreign residence and reviews of places nearby.

3. If you actually really want to come to Tohoku and have worked that into your finalized plans, hit me up. I'm still happy to show people around and be a free guide, but only when that's not getting my hopes up before someone says, "Oh, well we decided we'd just go wherever everyone goes after all. Screw Sendai."

So good luck guys, and enjoy your vacation wherever it takes you, but leave me out of it unless you actually give a crap about seeing me or Tohoku.