Posted in Poetry

The Ramen Stand

After over eleven hours scratching

at projects and final tests,

my hands ache too much to hold a pen

much less a frying pan.

I walk over a bridge with empty trees

leading to a hidden stairway.

Past the sketchy doorways

of the riverside haunts,

my ramen stand appears.

Ramen with an egg, yes please,

all the salt you can spare-

No, no miso.

The school lunch included miso fish

which never sits well.

Everyone laughs as they toasts with Asahi,

“Ostukare!”

I eat without a slurp,

too hungry to pause for breath.

As the sun sets the river blazes

in a dance of golden red,

but we drunk fools

take no pictures.

Am I still single? Yes, always.

No, no, don’t set me up with your son!

Jokes, jokes, anecdotes,

sure I’ll take some French fries.

We start to shiver as the street lights

blink on at the bridge.

I receive a service side of yakisoba

to save my stomach from school fish.

Chairs clatter as we all stand up.

The smell of ramen broth is thick

on our clothes and hair,

but we don’t care.

The owner gives me a grin.

“Come again!”

Someday, I say,

someday soon

not just for food

but for friends too.

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Posted in Poetry

The Shrine Between Time

The vermilion poles pop up in pockets between

the office and skyscraper sheen.

A long wooden piece on top stretches out father

than the supporting boards under

as if they frame of a door

to something other.

A small white fox sits atop the left pole here

draped with a ring of sacred paper

to match the brother.

These little white creatures

once believed as messengers

for gods who would bring rice,

now are often forgotten

as we farm with mechanical device

to replace prayer with robotic care.

 

An efficient salaryman stops in rain

pausing a conversation on his phone

with his feet directed at the train.

With a solemn look, he taps the call away

and reaches into his pocket.

Nothing keeps the falling drops at bay

as he rings a bell-

once…twice…thrice…

so the kitsune will hear

he is there.

He tosses a coin which clatters

into a rough wood container.

After two claps, he bows his head

and murmurs into his hands.

 

Just behind him lies a road

with cars packed tight crawling home.

The cars honk loud

desperate to get out.

His suit gets soaked in minutes

as people run by on their business

shouting for taxis or

laughing with friends or

stumbling with early drinks or

singing a song.

Still yet the kitsune stand

to listen to this man.

 

Many years ago a priest

in white robes thought to appease

a rice god with his service.

He carves out a place with purpose

meant to last beyond trees or stone

protected by the leaders yet unknown.

And so be it war or strife or peace

the prayers spoken would ease

the worries of mortal souls

trapped in bankrolls.

 

With a final bow, he runs away

briefcase in hand,

leaving the shrine behind

caught between time.

Posted in Poetry

Wandering in Yukata

At a party held in a home in Nara,

my host mother wraps a lilac yukata

around my form.

The obi cuts into my thick waist

so I can’t breathe.

“Too tight?”

“No,” but yes, but too polite.

I smile for cameras left and right.

They pass matcha from one to another to me.

I discover green tea tastes well paired

with Kit Kats and gummy treats.

After an hour playing at tea ceremony,

host mother tells me,

“It’s a gift.”

 

I carry it with me across the sea,

then back again

to the rice fields of Itako.

I arrive in summer at a time for fireworks

and memorials.

I wear the yukata at the riverside

to watch children run with sparklers

and at shrines to light vigil candles.

I walk over Ibaraki’s roads

cracked in the middle

like gaping asphalt wounds.

My clacking wooden shoes tread

with careful steps

between laughter and tears.

 

In summer, we musume walk

together in an iris park.

The blooms of pale purple mingling

with white petals beside them

atop long green stalks

seem brushed by an artist

instead of planted by hands.

When sunshine hits the river right,

all the fields glisten.

We stroll as we chat, as we sing, as we laugh,

forming friendships fast.

Our yukata were vibrant violet iris

patterned to nearly blend in with the scenery

if not for the bright navy

between the dyed flowers.

 

As the leaves fall,

I fold the fabric as instructed.

I place the gifts into a box

reverent as I put them up high.

Next year,

we will wander again

and weave memories

into the seams.

Posted in Blog/Vlog Announcements

The Japan Poetry Series

I’ve been itching to get a bit creative for quite a while. Specifically, I’ve wanted to craft poetry about Japan, but kept talking myself out of it. Poetry and I work well together in private, in scribbles on notebooks on the way to work, with a few selective moments here and there to share with friends. Putting poetry out there for the world to see scares me more than a little bit.

But I want to attempt something small to work my way up to something big. See, I have wanted to be a novelist since I was eleven years old. Hell, I even wrote a massively terrible romance novella when I was in seventh grade. After all these years, it’s finally time to get the finished things published and out there.

Still, I keep getting these haunting voices from past English teachers that I need “more” all the time. More editing, better vocabulary, more humor! In middle school and high school, I never really felt supported by my teachers with my creative endeavors. I was actually accused of not taking my work seriously, which hurt and once again made me really not want to show my work. I was never an English class darling, even though I adored all my English classes.

Funny thing is, I can’t NOT write. I just keep doing it anyway, all the time. I have hundreds of notebooks just sitting around with half-formed ideas and plot lines. In university, I met a lot of like minded people, other English majors who were similar in their drive for writing. I managed to publish some poetry and get my work recognized, but then I moved to Japan.

Even here, I still write all the time! I just get so nervous about sharing it. I’m a terrible critic of my own works. However, I know if I want to achieve my goal I can’t just keep waffling. This series is basically a compromise on my nerves and on trying to achieve my long term goals.

For now, I’m limiting myself to a poem a day for only seven days. I might make poetry a regular occurrence maybe on a specific day if I find I enjoy it, but if not then I’ll just have this one series. Also, if you all enjoy it then I might be more inclined to keep going. If it’s not well received, then I suppose lesson learned.

The first work will follow shortly after this post. I hope you enjoy it and my work!

 

Posted in Slice of Life

Too Busy To Even Do Laundry

Whoa boy! What a Golden Week.

I finished up my training for work. Yay! Which means I now have to work. Yay? Kind of yay. I’m getting used to it. Now that I’m back into eikaiwa work, it’s odd to try and teach all ages again. And I gotta get used to the program this company uses, too. The books for each level, the specific process for the classes, and so on and so forth are all new with a side of confusing.

But let’s get back to that later (like tomorrow).

I also ended up doing the Tokyo Rainbow Pride planning and volunteering for Stonewall Japan. I decided to step down as Vice President, as I believe I mentioned before, so now I’m Kanto East Block Leader. I will mostly be making events happen in Tokyo in the near future as well as posting other people’s events to the Facebook page, but there are also many other responsibilities.

The planning process for TRP took some time. L____ the VP, P____ the Treasurer, and myself all got together on Google Hangouts to discuss ideas for the event for a couple of hours. Once we got our ideas finalized, we had a couple of weeks to get our projects done. As I was still in job training, that meant I needed to find free time with a super limited budget in order to get my materials for my project.

I didn’t really succeed. My “plan” was to buy Polaroid film for a camera, borrow my roommates camera, and have an album frame a la Instagram so people could take a picture home with them. As it turns out, the film costs 1,000 yen for a pack of 10 sheets. At 100 yen a sheet, I couldn’t afford to buy over 10,000 yen worth of sheets for this big event. I ended up just making the frame, which was cute and everyone loved it, but I just wished I could’ve afforded those sheets.

But in between all of these activities, I also needed to get my visa things sorted before May 1st. See, during Golden Week there were two days in which I could go to immigration to change my visa from an Instructor to a Humanities visa. I also needed to send off a self-addressed stamped envelope to my old city for tax information, which I didn’t realize was necessary for changing a status, but whatever. I got that done, it came in the mail after about a week.

I was a nervous wreck at the visa office. I was number 964, which meant 964 people had come in line before me. NOT GOOD. I had arrived at 11:00 a.m. in case you’re thinking I must’ve arrived later in the day. I knew, I just KNEW I should’ve arrived at opening time, but I just didn’t have the gumption in the morning to get up and get moving. Regrets, I have them!

Every hour that passed I was panicking. What if I can’t get my visa things done today? What if I have to come back? There were so many people around me standing because all the seats were taken. I could hear the window people getting yelled at by people who didn’t bring their passport copies, demanding that the employees make an exception for them. I could also overhear various people wondering if it mattered that they didn’t bring their university degree copy. OF COURSE IT DOES!!

Basically, it took over seven hours before my visa papers were finally submitted to the slowest receptionist available at the visa immigration office. She refused to rush, getting each paper a look over, then stamping in certain places, then going to get a different sheet of paper, and looking over it again- WOMAN JUST GIVE ME MY TEMPORARY NUMBER PLEASE!!

Finally, at 18:15, I got out of there. Now I have to wait two weeks or more to get a new visa. Luckily with eikaiwa work I’ll be off on one weekday in a week, so I’ll be able to go get it (pending approval) sometime soon.

All these different things kind of happening all at the same time means my laundry just kind of piled up around the apartment. I now live with a roommate K____ and we don’t currently have a washer. We do have a coin laundry just down the street, but with everything else going on and with the rainy season coming a bit early, it’s been a while since I’ve had a good day to do it.

Today will be that day. Tomorrow I want to talk about the new eikaiwa job, and then a little later I want to write about Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2018. I want to say a lot of things about TRP2018, but I need to collect my thoughts before I do. Until next time!

Posted in Slice of Life, Uncategorized

MORE Black and Queer Music PLEASE!!

Everything from Janelle Monáe has been awesome and fight me if you think otherwise. It’s apologetically black, queer, and woman empowering in a way that I think is groundbreaking.

And the she just dropped the whole damn Dirty Computer album’s movie on us.

She just came out as pansexual, which is HIGHLY REPRESENTED in this movie. My bisexual heart is in love with it (I say bi because I like the honor the history that comes with it, I am open to dating anyone I fall in love with much like pansexuality). I adore how this entire music was a work of art and a labor of love.
Specifically though, I want to just point out the Make Me Feel song.
I cried when I saw this music video. I have been telling people for YEARS that when I like someone, I just like them. There’s no way to explain, “But why?” Because I just do? I don’t really have a particular type, I just like who I like. And then there is a music video that puts it out there!!! I haven’t stopped listening to this song since I heard it. At least once a day like a vitamin I take this song in and let it soothe my soul.
But let’s also talk about Todrick Hall!
Firstly, I want his outfit from Dem Beats. I get called a unicorn so often I might as well just own it and become one.
Yes, RuPaul is in it and I have issues with Ru, but the style of this video and its non-binary 80’s punk vibe is just the best. The entire album Forbidden is just amazing. While I’m not a gay man, I love Todrick flaunts who his is in his identity, dancing with other men who dance with other men and just own it.
 
While there have been some talks about one particular song, Thug, as “furthering stereotypes” and “fetishes black male bodies” I gotta disagree. I’m a white woman so I can’t speak for all gay black men (ever, at all, I’m not that trashy), but from my eyes it looks like Todrick is trying flip the script on what it means to be/want a “Thug.” Queer used to be a slur, but the community took it back. By taking a word commonly associated with criminality and stereotyping and using it to describe a rough top, it’s taking ownership of that word to use it in a different context.
Also, it’s not a “fetish” to want a black male gay man when the person in the damn music video is a BLACK MALE GAY MAN TRYING TO BRING ATTENTION TO BLACK MALE GAY MEN. Dammit people, being sexual and gay doesn’t automatically equal “fetish,” I’m so tired of this argument. Same for Janelle’s PYNK video!
People got their panties all in a twist because she featured *gasp* VAGINAS in her video. I loved it, because how often do we actually get to talk about vaginas not in a comedy or gross context? Rarely if ever, and rarely if ever do vaginas get the celebration they deserve. People went back to that same old that she’s “exploiting” or turning black lesbian/bi women into a “fetish.” NO, she’s wanting to celebrate being those things and show the world it’s fine to celebrate all of those aspects of being a woman and/or loving a woman.
Anyways, all of these tunes are fantastic. Thanks to the YouTube algorithm, it also reminded me that Bob the Drag Queen exists and told me I missed a video released last year.
 
This one I like because, well, it’s funny! I mean, I wish I could say I love it for its artistic value and because oh what an age we live in that drag queens can be YouTube stars…but if I’m being honest I just adore the fact that it’s legit just all about the drama of the Drag Race and people slamming on each other. I’m not perfect, people, sometimes I like drama too, but I like really specific drama, men in dresses and ten pounds of makeup calling each other bitches specifically.
Is it problematic? Yes, but all of these videos are, and I love them. I want to see more, more beats, more drama, more queens flaunting their identities please! I want a new music age where black queerness gets to be on top and running for months on top 10 billboard countdowns.  I want them dominating the charts!
GIMME MORE!

 

Posted in Slice of Life, Uncategorized

Adorable Puppers “Saved” by Japanese Police

Today, I ate lunch outside in the sun with M____ and N____, two other training buddies at my new company. We were talking about a variety of topics while eating sandwiches, when suddenly a horrid crime was committed.

Two tiny fluffy puppers got left outside by their owner.

The pups were obviously distraught by literally all the love and attention thrown their way by the “dangerous” people petting them. An old lady took it a step further and reported this crime to the police (after all of five minutes of observation).

Immediately, the heroes came to the rescue!

With totally not just absolutely pleased smiles on their faces.

After a cursory check via lots of petting and cooing noises, the police searched nearby stores for the owner to come fetch these totally abandoned baby doggos.

The two men switched out every five minutes or so, and they totally didn’t keep bending down to reassure their fluffy wards that everything was fine each time they changed out. After about twenty minutes from the police “call,” the bewildered owner/criminal came out to find the police with his pups.

Confused about what exact crime he committed, the police politely explained that leaving cute things unattended will bring the wrath of retired housewives and he must take better care not to leave his furry family members out on the street (presumably anyway, as I wasn’t close enough to hear).

With their mission accomplished, I made sure to shout a very well appropriate “Ostukaresamadeshita!” to the giggling policemen as they passed by. They thanked me before resuming their ever vigilant watch at the station for other nefarious deeds.

The pups are well and expecting to have a full recovery from their ordeal.

*Note: For those of you who will inevitably cry foul about the owner’s behavior, he left the two little puff balls leashed on a poll in the shade while he ran an errand. It’s a common occurrence here, he just had the unfortunate luck to do it at a busier point in the day nearer to a station. He’s not a bad dad, I petted his pups afterward and he’s got a bag stuffed full with doggy things. Also, their fur was well kept and fluffy when I petted them, so neglect isn’t a problem. Thank you for understanding satire! Peace.