Dramatic, I know…
Here are a few examples of how this effort played out in my writing:
I wrote a series called “Anti Acts of Retaliation” (as a follow up to my Acts of Retaliation series) where I try to make the best of a bad situation, and go way out of my way to intervene in the apparent natural order of things here and help some Japanese passengers on the train. Not for my readers, and not even so much for the victims, but for ME! I needed to remain in touch with my humanity.
I did a series on the “Things I love about Japan”where I describe in detail what it is about this place that has such a hold on me…not so much for my readers but for ME! I had to remind myself of why I don’t do as some of my JDL (Japanese Defamation League) readers suggest and crawl back under that so-called bedrock of diversity called NY that I came from.
I started my Reality Show and narrowed my focus to my kids and co-workers, and the trials and tribulations, joys and wonders to be found in the workplace…not so much for you guys, again, but for ME! I needed to give myself a project that would fuel my creativity and distract me as much as possible from what was happening before I arrived and after I left the office.
I launched my “Yokohama, in Living Color” series where I played the role of Yokohama tour guide, even going as far as to take pictures and what not, focusing on the subjects of my photos while keeping the nastiness going on around me out of focus as much as I could.
I called this my “Loco Lite” period.
Outside of writing, I also made efforts. Strenuous efforts.
For example, walking down the street here at any given time of day or night you’re bound to pass some of the natives. Depending on my visibility on approach they may recognize that I am an “other” anywhere from 10 yards to 5 feet away. Doesn’t really matter their distance away or the width of the sidewalk, (though there’s plenty of room for two people to pass one another without touching or even interacting in most cases.) The reaction is the point. A third of these approaching Japanese will leave the sidewalk and take to the street at that moment, giving me a unnecessarily wide berth. Some will actually make an arc (sometimes even when there is traffic causing horns to blow and drivers to veer around them.) Apparently- at least it feels so- they want me to know I am the object being evaded (as if I needed clarification). Some will stop upon recognition of the “other” (me) and behave as if their stalker boyfriend or girlfriend- the psycho violent one who threatened to kill them if they ever saw them again- had finally caught up with them. Some will act as if I’m super-sized, like a black Sumo wrestler, and tightrope walk the gutter or turn sideways and walk crab-like until they’ve passed me. Some will… Well, you get the picture. This behavior is bizarre, almost sociopathic…
…and impossible to disregard.
At least, you would think so.
But, as Loco Lite, I started anticipating their evasions, matching them, countering them, beating them to the punch, often unconsciously. Anything you can do I can anticipate and preempt! At a distance, I’d spot a native and before they could overreact I’d take to the streets myself. Even cross it sometimes. I used to notice that this indeed had a soothing effect on them, but after a while I didn’t even peek for a reaction shot anymore. I just did it naturally. The same way I’d turned my back on them on the train, not as a reaction but in anticipation of their foolishness…again like it was the most natural thing. I used to only pretend not to see them. But as Loco Lite I went out of my way not to see them, not to see their flinching, jerking, scratching, ducking, bolting, panicking, freaking out, changing lines, changing doors, changing subway cars, inching away, scurrying away, bounding away, crossing streets, making arcs, shifting purses, refusing to board elevators, detouring, turning their backs…etc, etc..(yes, the empty seat is just the tip of the iceberg.)
It had gotten to the point where people I knew were able to walk right up on me, shocking me out of my malaise with a “Hey Loco!”
The Loco antennae, one of my most prized possessions, had been lowered. The white flag, as far as trying to find a way to keep my head up was concerned, had been hoisted.
And I realized what this meant: it didn’t mean I was trying not to go Loco, as I once thought. It didn’t mean I was trying not to think ill of Japanese, either.
Things had been taken to another level.
It meant, in effect, I’d given up on them all, as a race. Even those unworthy of my contempt (though I’ll never know who they were) were caught in the crossfire.
Pretty soon my behavior, my attitude, began to affect my friendships and relationships with Japanese people. Where as I used to engage my friends in matters that troubled me regarding the elephant, pertaining to the challenges of living here, I willfully refrained from doing so. In order to avoid the feelings and thoughts that made the elephant visible, Loco Lite kept it light.
What I didn’t know and would learn in due course was it was in part my sensitivity to such issues, my keen observations (so they tell me), my passionate pursuit of the why, that attracted them in the first place. My friends wanted to understand me, learn from me, teach me. When I denied them access to this essential part of me, as real friends, they naturally felt abandoned, and worried about my well-being.
And, it was true. I had abandoned them…abandonment based on race. And I was not well. Not well, at all.
Not only had the elephant vanished, but it took most Japanese people (and much more) with it.
That’s about the time I started questioning what the hell was Loco Lite doing to me.
And, the more I wrote, the clearer the answer became:
It was racism. Plain, but complicated. Racism against Japanese people.
to be concluded…seriously.