Posted in Uncategorized

We Don’t Talk Anymore

Sometimes I go through old diaries and wish I could go back in time to hug myself. A lot of people have this bitter self-hatred of their teen and young adult selves, but I don’t. I wish I could give my past self a hug and tell her everything is going to be OK.

I found a snippet in there about my father and it was jarring to say the least. See, we don’t talk anymore. Why? Oh boy, where to start.

When I came to Japan in my first year, it was the “honeymoon” period. I was all about having the best time I could in Japan, and I did. I traveled every chance I got, went on these crazy adventures with JET Programme people in Ibaraki, which made for some great memories.

My mom and brother kept in contact with me via Skype and Facebook. We would call on the Skype phone or vid call. My brother actually helped me get miles so I could come home for Christmas!

But, well, complete radio silence from Dad.

I tried to call him once. I called, he picked up the phone, and I got maybe 5 minutes of conversation before he started complaining about how expensive the call was going to be. I don’t remember saying goodbye, just hearing the click of the line dropped. I cried my eyes out for the better part of an hour after.

I didn’t try that again.

I figured he’d call me, or maybe my step-mom would get in touch via Facebook for him. Right? Not so much. My brother actually worked as the go between for that year, helping to finalize plans and everything.

I wrote that diary entry above in 2012. I was beginning to hit a really important but kind of traumatizing realization that I couldn’t live with him as a shadow figure in my life anymore. He couldn’t care about me unless I was right in front of him, and even then, only if a football or basketball game wasn’t on.

As a child of divorce, he had weekends he could visit, but he often didn’t/couldn’t come. I remember waiting by my grandmother whenever the phone rang at her house. I remember one time I stood there and didn’t move, because I wanted to just pretend I was still waiting, or maybe he’d call back and change his mind.

Basically, I spent a very disproportionate amount of time in my life just waiting for him to show up, and he didn’t.

It’s a stereotypical story, I know, divorced kid with an abandonment complex, but the pain of it was still valid. He tried to make up for it with things, like a car on my sixteenth birthday- a Ford two-seater with a sliver of a backseat that I drove until the transmission got wonky- and a week long vacation on the Alabama coast in my senior year. Grand gestures, like he was trying, you know?

However, I knew he wasn’t paying child support for years, same for medical bills. Mom and student loans put me through college, although he would occasionally send grocery money here, emergency money there. He was inconsistent with how he wanted to care about his children, like my brother and I were two things that were on the list of things to cross off, but it depended on the season.

Christmas of 2012 was a roller-coaster ride. I was running around from city to city, trying to see as much of my family and friend groups as I could in a short time. I stayed with my dad for a bit and he got me on the plane to Japan. I thought it was all good.

Then 2013 rolled around.

I decided to just wait and see. Surely, I thought, surely he’ll send a message at some point. I left him with all my information, he can do it. Or maybe step-mom?

No birthday, no Thanksgiving, and no Christmas message.

Months into 2014, I don’t know when exactly, but my step-mother (bless her) tried to ask me about when I was coming back for a visit… And I went off.

I said some very awful things to her. Some of them I didn’t mean, and I was largely unfair to her. If I could regain contact, I think I’d apologize mostly to her. She didn’t deserve to get the emotional pent up frustration and rage I felt towards him.

And he messaged back through her account. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember reading through it and thinking to myself, “I can’t do this anymore.” It addressed nothing, didn’t even attempt to form understanding about where the anger came from, it was just…uncaring.

So I blocked him.

Ever since then, I’ve felt oddly freed. I’m not waiting around for him to acknowledge I exist anymore, and I’m not wounding myself by expecting some kind of love that’s never coming. Instead, I’m learning to love myself with the family and friends that do love me.

Maybe one day we can talk again, but I’m not going to open that door. Past me didn’t deserve to have her heart broken like that for so long. Maybe when my heart is a little bit stronger and I’m a little wiser…until then, I guess.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Dear (Adult) Eikaiwa Students…

I understand that you want to improve your English for various reasons. You’re really, really trying hard, you think. You’re going to a class once (maybe twice) a week, you’re reviewing the material, but somehow you’re just not improving.

You’ll see other eikaiwa students in the lobby chatting it up with the English teachers, and you’ll wonder, “How come they’re better than me? Is it the teacher? Is it their methods?” And I might have a couple of answers for you.

If you’re having trouble in eikaiwa maybe…

You should increase your study time.

A class or two a week is not enough, not even nearly enough. When I was in the JET Programme, we were shown graphs and charts from various studies around the world. On average, you need at least two hours a week of studying to remember the material. If you want to improve in dramatic fashion, you need three to four hours a week for results.

Many eikaiwa students make the mistake of thinking that one class a week will magically make them better at English, but that’s just not possible. Languages for the average person means developing multiple skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It means you can’t just expect a “fast food English” approach and expect grand results. I’m sorry, that’s just not how it works. In addition to that…

You might need a group class. 

A lot of Japanese students are under the impression that a private class is better because you’ll get more time with a teacher. While that is an advantage if you’re studying for a specific exam or have business related things to improve. However, for general conversation things, it would actually be better to have a group class.

Speaking with one person for forty five minutes to an hour (depending on the company) means you’re only speaking to one person. Yes, it’s a native person, but then you’re limiting yourself to that teacher only for your listening and verbal skills. With other people, you’ll have different experiences, backgrounds, and ideas. With other people you can learn from them, basically, and even learn from their mistakes.

Think about naturally learning Japanese, you didn’t do it with one teacher or one parent. You talked with all different kinds of people in different situations. That’s how languages work, you need to have a variety of different people in order to gain more conversation skills.

It also helps that in a group class you’ll make friends. When you have people you enjoy hanging out with in a group class, you’re more likely to show up to class regularly. Private students often drop classes halfway through a course because, well, their teacher is a teacher. A teacher might become your friend, but that’s often not the case. With a group class you’ll have people you can get to know, and maybe even hang out with after class, possibly even study together. Emotional investment isn’t something to ignore.

And we finally come to…

You need to set realistic goals. 

Many students at eikaiwa set themselves up to fail. Often times the expectations are something along the lines of, “Oh! If I go to class every day, once a week, for a year, I’ll be fluent!” But that’s not a realistic goal. Fluency is complicated, and usually requires years of practice and study.

Fluency would also be better acquired, honestly, in an English speaking country. In Japan where 99% of your interactions daily will be in Japanese, expecting to become fluent in one year through an eikaiwa alone is just setting yourself up to fail.

Now, there will be people who will say, “I became fluent in one year!” online. That’s probably because they devoted themselves to that language daily for hours and possibly lived in the country of the language’s origin. It is possible, but not through one class a week.

Also, expecting one class once a week to make you fluent is putting an unrealistic expectation on the teacher. Believe it or not, your teacher’s job is not to make you speak perfect English, our job is to make you communicate effectively in English. What does that mean? It means we want you to speak and then be understood.

We don’t want you to speak like the Queen of England, we just want you to be able to use the language in a way where in a conversation you send a message with words, and the person listening to you gets that message. Yes, vocabulary and grammar are important, but the core focus in our classes is communication, not tests.

In short, set yourself goals that are reachable within a year. It can be as simple as, “I will be able to travel in English.” That’s usually a basic level, asking for how much something is or where a place is. Or maybe a goal like, “I will be able to help foreigners around town.” If you’re a beginner, try to go with goals that meet that level. If you’re higher level, maybe keep an English journal for a year.

And those are just a few things I wanted to bring to your attention. I don’t expect you to maybe understand this post well, and perhaps this advice isn’t that helpful for you. Still, I hope perhaps you’ll take these points under consideration as you study.

Keep up the good work, you’ll get there!

 

Posted in Blog/Vlog Announcements, Uncategorized

Launching a Patreon Page! Yay!

Firstly, much love to everyone who stayed on the poetry series with me. It was a labor of love, and I’m glad to receive love for my work in return. It’s just awesome!

And so, it’s been suggested by a few friends here and there to go for a poetry book. Having no funds for such a venture, I decided it is time to get a Patreon page.

I haven’t set up monthly goals yet, but I essentially want to make exclusive content for the Patreon givers such as previews of the book that I won’t show here on the blog.

I also want to get back on the YouTube content making horse, putting up more tourist friendly things on Patreon with more day-to-day vlogs here on the site.

Basically, I have a thousand ideas, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m going for it anyways. I want to do more, like way more, but without a little support here and there I just can’t do it.

So if you’d like to support my poetry or my blogs or vlogs, head on over to the Patreon page. I’d appreciate even a dollar or two! It’s taking my work one step closer to getting out there!

Love you all, thank you!

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

Break, Broke, Broken

I go through a class with my tongue sliding on

all the textbook words knowing I

will stumble over some

syllable or two

because it takes

all my energy

just to

stand.

The next day I call in with a cold for a cold

is easier to explain than some

twisted up version of a

messy thing I call

my own

soul

is

breaking.

The weight on my chest pushes heavier

into my rib cage to steal away

all the breath I need

to cry, to form tears,

to speak,

to get

help.

There are stories told at meetings.

An ALT went home because

someone found out

about the therapist

and no B.O.E

wants to keep

broken

merchandise.

And so I contain within the apartment walls

these festering abysmal thoughts

praying that tomorrow this

so-called cold

will just

leave me

be.

Two days later, I return to school

with a very big smile

so no one will guess

that I am still

carrying this

sickness

crushing

my will

to

just

stay

alive.

 

 

Posted in Poetry, Uncategorized

Enter the Underground

Deck your body in tight black

with high black boots to match,

but throw on crimson eyeliner

and ruby paint on lips

so your lover can find you

on the dim lit dancefloor.

Watch green lasers slice through

the air around the stage.

What a lovely neon halo

around the fallen angels

singing on the stage.

The one drenched in blood

pulls out a heart to eat

for what is art if not

your heart exposed.

A woman in a silken robe

lets a man write kanji

on her skin

from head to toe.

She smiles at the crowd

as she turns to display

the seal against evil

along her spine.

We in the darkness cheer

as the man puts another line

on her inner thigh

set to the shamisen

and fast taiko beats.

Next comes the rock stars

decked in leather.

The one with the operatic chords

and the other with screaming energy

give the fans a taste

of Gothic beauty with a hint

of wrath.

At the end of the show,

your performing friend

comes to hug you.

“Did you enjoy the show?”

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!