Posted in Japan News

UPDATED: French Exchange Student Missing in Japan, Last Seen in Tokyo, FOUND SAFE

This message comes from Linda Brulé, a relative of Margot Brulé. Here it is as originally posted in French, then translated into Japanese and English. 

Margot Brulé, 23 ans, a disparu.

Française, elle vivait à Kyoto depuis avril 2017 pour un stage universitaire.
Son tuteur de stage, Dr. Hiroaki Kitagishi à Doshisha University (Kyoto), l’a vue pour la dernière fois le 18 janvier et pensait qu’elle allait rentrer en France le lendemain. Il l’a notamment aidée à rendre sa carte de résidence le 18 janvier.
Elle nous a cependant envoyé des messages (via Facebook Messenger) disant qu’elle allait finalement visiter Tokyo avant de rentrer, qu’elle avait pris une chambre d’hôtel jusqu’au vendredi 26/01 et prendre son billet d’avion de retour le jour même.
Ce dernier message était donc le 23.
Depuis, plus aucun signal ni réponse, plus aucun contact. Ni à sa famille, ni à son tuteur.

Son téléphone n’est plus enregistré sur Whatsapp, plus de réponse, ni lecture sur messenger.

Sa dernière adresse à Kyoto est :
K’s common garden, chambre 421,kyotanabe shi miyamaki nogami 106.
Passeport expire le 13-11-2026.
Visa (S) working holiday numéro EA3218349 expire le 21 mars 2018.

Déjà contacté :
Ministère des affaires étrangères, cellule de crise à l’ambassade de France à Tokyo, des locaux.

Margot Bruléさん(マルゴ ブリュレ、23歳、フランス国籍)が行方不明です。

彼女のインターンシップのチューターであるキタギシ ヒロアキ博士(同志社大学、京都)が最後に彼女を見たのは1月18日です。キタギシさんはこの日、翌日帰国予定の彼女の在留カードの返還手続きを手伝ったとのことです。

京都府京田辺市京田辺市三山木野神106 K’s Common Garden同志社前 421号
パスポート有効期限: 2026年11月13日
ワーキング・ホリデー査証 (S) : 番号 EA3218349 有効期限2018年3月21日

Margot Brulé, 23, has disappeared.

French, she lived in Kyoto since April 2017 for a university internship.
Her tutor, Dr. Hiroaki Kitagishi at Doshisha University (Kyoto), saw her for the last time on January 18 and thought she would return to France the next day. In particular, he helped her return her residence card on 18 January.
However, she sent us messages (Facebook Messenger) saying that she would finally visit Tokyo before returning, that she had taken a hotel room until Friday 26/01 and will take her plane ticket back the same day.

This last message was therefore the 23rd.

Since, no more signal or answer, no more contact. Neither his family nor her tutor.
Her phone is no longer registered on Whatsapp, no answer, no reading on messenger.

Her latest address in Kyoto is:
K’s common garden, room 421, kyotanabe shi miyamaki nogami 106.

Passport expires 13-11-2026.
Visa (S) working holiday number EA3218349 expires on March 21, 2018.

Already contacted:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Crisis Staff at the French Embassy in Tokyo, locals.

Normally I don’t post missing people’s information without it being officially from authorities, but Linda Brulé reports on her Facebook that “the French Embassy in Tokyo has been contacted and the police as well.” If you know any information on her whereabouts, please contact local police or the Embassy of France.

Embassy of France in Tokyo Tel:
(03) 5798-6000
French Embassy Crisis Unit:
or (07) 57612988 / (07) 57612165

Please share so she can go home safe and sound!

UPDATE: Margot Brulé has been found. Linda Brulé announced via Facebook that the family finally got in contact with her. All missing persons posts related to her are asked to be updated with this information and for the search to be called off. No details are being released on her disappearance. The family is happy she was found and ask for privacy at this time.

Posted in Uncategorized

And So Depression Strikes Again…

It is 2:15 a.m. and I hate myself.

I’ve been feeling it all week long, the push to get up and out of bed in the morning, that lethargic pull on my feet all the way to work. I’m what is considered a “functional” depressed person because I can do daily tasks and work 95% of the time. Never mind the crying fits I might have, the constant sudden need to sleep for hours upon hours, I’m still contributing to society and that’s generally how you get diagnosed with medication and such: How much of your life is spent making people above you happy with you?

My worries are multiple, and the worrying wears me down, like water on stone just slowly but surely. The job hunt, application processes, the various hobbies I keep up to keep me sane, continuously seeing friends who need more reassurance than I do, because that’s how I paint myself to the world.

I’m the stone, you can rely on me, I’ll always be here. Never you mind the raging river, I’m strong enough to brace against it.

I am the one people call when they need to talk, and I love that I am that person people call. I enjoy feeling needed, who doesn’t? But it always feels wrong to lean back. Showing my weaknesses, it’s always the hardest thing for me to do, because it always feel like I’m showing something ugly, distasteful, gross, or otherwise a nuisance. I was made fun of as a kid for crying, I was the “Drama Queen” of my family, always making something out of nothing.

I’ve been told kids of divorce often feel this way, especially the older ones, the ones who feel like they have to hold everything together (even though that’s not their responsibility, it can still feel like it is one anyway). I think in hindsight, getting the “Drama Queen” label only made me believe harder that my emotions were just invalid, ridiculous, useless, and otherwise…a nuisance. I know there was no ill intent behind the nickname, I know people just wanted me to “lighten up,” but even good intentions have consequences.

I have to be the one who has all her shit together, even if sometimes I’m fracturing a bit. I’m getting better about putting my feelings out into the world, prepped for the expected derision, but nowadays I’ve chosen better friends. My support base is amazing, my friends and family continue to grow and be more loving every day. I’ve also learned that people who don’t appreciate me as I am don’t deserve me, and I do now cut out toxicity.

But there are still moments I hate myself.

The trigger this time tonight was about my volunteer work. This whole year, I’ve secretly been counting up all the ways I have failed my groups, both in the higher and lower ranks. I didn’t get enough donations, I didn’t prevent problems (I couldn’t have foreseen), I didn’t work hard enough to get the business cards done in time, I could’ve done more on communication, the list just goes on and on and on in my head. I don’t say anything to anyone involved in the group, because it’s not really logical how I’m feeling.

I’ve done a lot too, because there were so many unexpected drop outs, changes in the system, but I always feel like I never do enough. I can’t just do the meetings, I have to set up interviews, I have to help with this event or network this thing, it’s a constant moving entity of side work. All the same, when I get like this, the list comes back, and I can’t reconcile logic with my depressive mind that is absolutely sure everything I’ve done is for naught.

I hate myself because myself is never going to be good enough for me. I’m a fake, I think, and one day everyone is going to wake up and see the impostor that I am. It sucks to think this way (because my logical side knows that is not accurate information).

I really want to do more, but the exhaustion keeps me from even trying. I will still get up tomorrow and do what I need to do, but I’ll be carrying this visceral hatred towards myself the whole time. Odds are no one will notice, odds are I won’t be telling anyone close just yet, I’ll just be me.

So far as they know, I’m still the rock in the river. They’ll see my shine, my smooth exterior, and never know the cracks under the waterline. And it’ll all be fine, eventually.


Posted in Uncategorized

On the Sexual Assault Narrative: Aziz Ansari

The #MeToo movement and the #TimesUp movement brought a sense of much needed change of social consciousness on rape, sexual assault, sexual coercion, and the term consent. Dialogues continue left and right, with women constantly coming forward to reveal their stories to the media and bring predators to light. We are all gathering together to track down these “villains,” bring them to at least a public justice with their “true” natures revealed.

And that’s where we actually fail to make real change.

The Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K.’s of the world are easy to condemn. Big men with big power using their power against the women below them on the media totem pole, skeezy hotel rooms, a narrative and plot we’ve known. It’s familiar territory, Lifetime movie drama that, ironically, would be easy to translate to a big screen.

But then we have the Aziz Ansari story.

Aziz Ansari proclaims himself a feminist. He wrote a book, got an award a “Woke Bae,” and up until the article hit seemed like the “cool guy” you would want to date. To the public at large, he would be the last person suspected of sexual coercion or assault. Surely a guy who prides himself on getting what women want and even joining their movements couldn’t be responsible for such a thing, right?

Women and men alike have fired at Grace, the anonymous photographer who just had one of the worst nights of her life published for the world to see, with all the fervor we usually reserve for the “villains” in our stories. Her story is full of moments she could’ve gotten out of there, they say. Her story has alcohol and going home with a guy along, they say. Her story can’t be believed because she never said no, they say.

Let’s change this narrative to something familiar. We the public are the police. Grace is a woman who feels violated, coming to us with a story. So now we ask her all the standard questions: Did he put a knife to your throat? What were you wearing? Did you drink? Did you say no? Oh you didn’t actually have sex? Well then, case closed. You weren’t raped. You weren’t assaulted. Case closed. Who would believe you anyway? This story would never hold up in court…

All too familiar, isn’t it?

Despite all the progress we make towards giving women platforms to be heard, we still fall back to the same narratives comfortably enough when a woman’s story gets messy, complicated, and focuses on someone well regarded. Rapists and sexual molesters can’t be people we actually like, because that doesn’t fit with our perceptions of them as ugly monsters.

For women, we are also inviting the terrible idea that we ourselves might have experienced sexual coercion or assault, but we refused to put that label on our past encounters. Our stories can’t have that label, we protest, because…Because we didn’t say no, we didn’t get out, we drank that wine, we dressed that way, we went home with that man, we didn’t…oh.

The realization that your own life’s narrative holds more pain than you want to face is devastating. We say he was just being pushy, we could’ve done more to prevent it, and the excuses cushion us from the truth. Stories like Grace’s happen to women every where. We go into a date thinking we will end up having our bodies respected, only to end up ending our nights in tears and scalding hot showers.

Aziz Ansari gets to keep his dignity and respect. He will never see himself as part of the grand problem, because in his mind “he’s a feminist.” He doesn’t have to admit wrong when he’s on those red carpets talking the talk, ignoring the fact he doesn’t walk the walk. In the end he is as Grace shouted at him that night: the same as every other man who doesn’t respect women’s bodies.

Feminist men exist, those who recognize that a woman’s body isn’t a plaything. Aziz Ansari isn’t one of them. He wants to have the moniker, yet he also wants to treat women as if they’re still just objects for his use. Or maybe for him it was just this one particular woman that he saw as vulnerable, as someone with no clout to control a narrative like this one, and knew he could get away with treating her in an awful manner. Someone anonymous, someone with a standard story that no one will believe, and no proof besides her own words what happened.

We see people finding all the faults with Grace, not the faults of a man who promised to the world at large he was a feminist, but behind closed doors was just as much a creep as a stereotypical drunken horny frat boy.

But as someone so widely liked and respected, he will control this narrative, and so will those who like and respect him. Already we see articles like “The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari” that cut down Grace for, to paraphrase, “not calling a cab, being weak, and using her story as revenge porn against a man of a different color.” Because, as we all know, “good women don’t go home with men alone.” It’s disappointing to see that still, despite all of the conversations and talk, it’s still too much to expect men not to be aggressive and forceful for sex, and women are still expected to “know better” than to expect anything more.

And we have near apologetic levels of defense for him, such as “Aziz Arsani is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader.” Boiling down the entire encounter to “bad sex” as if it were that simple, as if women are groomed from childhood to not take the initiative in anything (much less sex) before we get to adulthood. Consent means more than just saying yes or no, more than just being uncomfortable and giving non-verbal cues. Aziz Ansari didn’t get consent, he just jumped right into the porn narrative where the guy got the girl home and now they can bang.

Grace’s failing is that she expected to be treated with respect, and it’s unfortunate that almost no one thinks she deserved it.

Jessica Valenti, a Guardian columnist and author, points out a similar thought by tweeting, “A lot of men will read that post about Aziz Ansari and see an everyday, reasonable sexual interaction. But part of what women are saying right now is that what the culture considers ‘normal’ sexual encounters are not working for us, and oftentimes harmful.”

Our cultural narratives about sexual assault need to change. We can’t keep going back to the same old tropes, of the disbelieving public and the overly victim blamed women. We can’t keep blaming women for expecting basic bodily respect.

The media outlet Jezebel is calling out Babe for many narrative detail issues in “Babe, What Are You Doing?“, citing that putting out all of the gritty details about the story actually undermined the more important discourse within it:

Because Babe did not have the range or depth to present Grace’s story for what it is—a starting point to discuss the ways consent can feel blurring, no matter how clear we might wish it were, and our lack of language to describe this—we all ended up opening up a conversation that did us no good at all. The story had the unfortunate effect of leaving the door a little wider for self-righteousness, allowing detractors to reiterate their shitty assumptions about millennial women and their motivations instead of questioning a set of injustices so commonplace that many people seem not to register them as injustices at all.

Babe had an opportunity to change the sexual assault narrative, to get the story focused on how we remain tied to the ideas of consent being “you must say no or it’s ok.” It had a vital chance to open the dialogue towards what it means to have someone a decade your senior and a supposedly “woke” Hollywood feminist treating you like you don’t matter to him except as a  sex object.

But instead the media has been presented a grand way to re-victimize Grace, and tear her narrative to pieces, along with the narratives of so many other women out there who have experienced this story.

It’s vital to change the narrative, because we’re not just change it for Hollywood alone. The U.S.A. Gymnastics association allowed a doctor to sexual molest and assault women for years, paying girls to keep silent (and yes, girls as most of these victims were underage). These young girls grew up in the culture of being one of the more “woke” when it comes to these issues, but even still their stories are only now being heard after decades of abuse. He was a doctor, a trusted and well respected person, with the control of the narrative for years. We can’t keep letting that happen.

We can’t stop talking and revising what it means to be sexually assaulted, coerced, molested, etc. We need to keep talking about Aziz Ansari, and we need to continually reevaluate how we treat the victims. The narrative needs to become one where if a woman goes home with a man and leaves feeling violated and in tears, we validate that experience instead of dismiss it.

Grace, I believe your story, and you deserve better.

Posted in Uncategorized

On MLK JR. and the Legacy We Need Today

Today my home country will have the opportunity to celebrate the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. This great man devoted his all to the cause of equality. Every speech and march was a crusade against tyranny. His galvanized thousands upon millions of people to come together to protest against the unjust nature of American society.

If only he could be here now…

At a time when my own so-called (but not well regarded) President calls less fortunate countries “shitholes,” enacted a Muslim Ban against Islamic peoples from Middle Eastern nations, and continuously badgers for a border wall, I wish at times we had another Martin Luther King Jr. to step up and orate the world into seeing how divisive and abhorrent racism truly is.

“I Have A Dream” is the speech many people know and love. The countless quotes pulled from it will be the main sound bites for the news features, and people will point to it as the leading example of the message Martin Luther King Jr. wanted us to learn.

But that’s oddly enough not the speech that stuck with me.

My favorite Martin Luther King Jr. speech is obscure, to say the least. It’s actually not even supposed to be a civil rights speech, but instead an acceptance letter for an honorary doctorate. For some reason, this one particular part of it resonates with me (underlined for emphasis):

As you well know, racism is a reality in many sections of our world today. Racism is still the coloured man’s burden and the white man’s shame. And the world will never rise to its full moral or political or even social maturity until racism is totally eradicated. Racism is exactly what it says. It is a myth of the inferior race; it is the notion that a particular race is worthless and degradated innately and the tragedy of racism is that it is based not on an empirical generalisation but on an ontological affirmation. It is the idea that the very being of a people is inferior.

I wish more people could read those lines. We all know the iconic lines of, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'” But to lay out what racism at its core really is, as well as put the shame where it belongs is just as important as the dream. It’s pointing out the root of the problem, and demanding action.

Racism must be eradicated, but how?

This speech actually continues on to talk about it:

Well, it may be true that morality cannot be legislated but behaviour can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can restrain him from lynching me; and I think that is pretty important also. And so, while the law may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men if it is vigorously enforced, and through changes in habits, pretty soon attitudinal changes will take place and even the heart may be changed in the process.

Changes in law, changes in the government, changes from the top to demand that the bottom obey these laws, must be just and equal. Right now, I don’t believe my government wants equality, but instead wants to encourage that “myth of an inferior race.” The administration in the White House feels no shame in its desire to rip apart families with ICE and immigration, in threatening to take away the dreams of DACA recipients, in lambasting NFL players for taking a knee (an act Martin Luther King Jr. would’ve surely been proud of, non-violent and attention getting as it is), and the list can just go on and on.

We cannot stay silent when we see injustice, for that is how it wins. Even if all we do is call out racist behavior when we see it, it’s a step in the right direction. Call your representatives, write letters, get yourself open and vocal.

Martin Luther King Jr. wanted a world of mutual understanding and respect between white and black people, but we white people must make ourselves worthy of that respect. Until then, we can carry this shame.

Posted in Slice of Life

Self-Care Days, We All Need ‘Em

If I’m being honest, this whole post is just me procrastinating on writing a personal statement for a job application, but that’s totally fine! It’s not like my future is completely up in the air or anything, she said with a slightly hysterical giggle.

Anyways, today started off perfectly fine. I know, you were expecting with the title that it started off a shit show, but NOPE. My students have actually been too exhausted the first week back to really do much mischief, as in the one boy I had to lecture yesterday slept through class kind of week. The morning meeting held no surprise drama, the first hour class was smoother than it had any right to be for a morning class, and the proceeding hours held students that did as told.

All the same, I felt worn out. Coming back to work and stressing myself out with the job hunt was grinding me down in little ways that just built up. Getting back into a normal sleep schedule, prepping for classes, filling out this application form, writing yet another cover letter, and then all of a sudden in the midst of this funk today it hit me.


For those of you who are new (Hi, welcome, glad you came), I recently started performing comedy shows. This new hobby fills me with joy, but as I’m the most amateurs of all amateurs, I’ve yet to get around to making headshots or bodyshots. These are semi-important for promotional materials, although I’ve just been getting away with sending bad selfies taken at the last minute.

Tomorrow, I’ve got to head up to Tokyo with a bunch of the Tokyo Women’s Comedy group to get our faces put on glossy paper by a fantastic camera guy, John. Which is great, necessary even, but my hair was shaggy as all hell. I hadn’t gone to my hair stylist in over a month because, ya know, winter vacation. I called up my hair salon and got the last booking for the day, thank God and Jesus and Mary.

I don’t know if anyone is aware of how amazing it is to get your hair cut in Japan, but it is beyond fantastic. I love that for only about $40 I can get a nice hair cut, shampoo, hair treatment, and then getting a scalp, neck, and shoulder massage before I get my hair dried. My hair salon also gives me candy and tea if I have to wait a long time.

This time I couldn’t go with my usual stylist, but this different girl (let’s call her Aya) was super nice. She talked with me about going to New York, and there she was taught by Cameron Diaz’s stylist! So I got my haircut by a person who was taught by a celebrity’s hair stylist, so I’m three degrees away from cool.

I actually will never tell my usual hairstylist, but my hair looked bangin’ after Aya was done. Also, when I mentioned I was thinking about plucking my eyebrows for tomorrow, she told me to wait a moment and got out an eyebrow trimmer from seemingly nowhere.

“Eh?!” I shouted in disbelief. “You do that here?” I said in bad Japanese.

“Yes,” she said in English, and then switched back to Japanese, “If only do the eyebrows, it’s usually 500 yen. If you do it with a haircut, it’s free.”

“I had no idea! That’s awesome. Please, yes, do it.”

And that’s the story of how, after two goddang years of going to this salon, I found out they did eyebrow work the entire time.

Sidenote: For those American ladies confused as to A) why I assumed they didn’t do eyebrow work and B) why on Earth would they use an eyebrow trimmer instead of waxing, it’s because in Japan hair salons are generally just for, well, hair. Also, even if they do eyebrows, they never use wax. You have to go to an actual spa for that service, and even then not as often as you might like.

So I left the salon feeling more pampered than expected, but my shoulders still felt stiff despite the best efforts of the trainee guy. As I was walking towards the direction of home, I realized of course my shoulders were tight, I’d been clicking and clacking away on my keyboard non-stop for a week. When I got to my train station, I remembered there was a cheap massage parlor the next floor up.

And from there, I decided the rest of this day would be about self-care. I went upstairs and reserved a time for a 40 minute massage, but needed to wait one hour. No problem at all, I just popped over to Tully’s Coffee for a Snow Man Latte, a nice sweet treat. I also stopped at the drug store for Biore face strips and bought face masks. Might as well do a home spa!

As you can probably tell, my forms of self-care are all easily affordable. I don’t really spend hundreds of dollars on myself, but when the mood strikes me I will put forth effort to care for myself in little ways. As it is the little things that get me down, it’s usually the little things that can pick me back up again.

My masseuse was a dude with a very nervous air about him. He tried speaking to me in English, which I appreciated, even if I’m fairly certain it was causing him several internal strokes trying to do basic words and phrases. Kudos for trying though! Luckily, for the 40 minutes, he mostly concentrated on trying to get the knots out of my shoulders, so we didn’t talk much. I am also fairly certain we went over 40 minutes, and I’m guessing that’s because no one came in during the entire time I was there to schedule an appointment, so yay for me!

After the haircut, the coffee break, and the massage I felt amazing. I honestly forgot what it felt like to be good to myself, and not just physically but even emotionally as well as mentally. I’ve been consistently harsh and critical of myself ever since November, telling myself that I should be better at nearly everything I’ve been doing: better at studying, better at applying, better at writing, better at vlogging, better at teaching, better at being this or that or the other.

As I’ve been home I took a long shower and I’m currently doing my face spa, I realized that I don’t need to keep beating myself up all the damn time. I can be good to myself, at least for this day. Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll start back up on wearing myself down, as my own worst enemy, but for the next little bit of time I have left today I want to remind myself that I’m worth the effort I’m putting into myself.

Hey, and you readers, be good to yourselves! We all need a little rest, relaxation, and self-care. You deserve it so let no one, not even you, say otherwise.