17 May 2011 ~ 13 Comments

Don’t get me wrong…pt.2

(Click here for part 1)


The thing about keeping a blog (and some of you bloggers can attest to this) especially one like Loco in Yokohama, where a number of subjects are tackled from various angles; where issues are presented, debated and sometimes even resolved; where change actually occurs; where sensitive subjects are broached and dealt with in real time over an extended period…the thing is this: While your stats might be sending tsunami-strength SEO shock-waves across the Net, your brand  buzzing, Yahoo’d and ballyhooed, re-tweeted and re-blogged all over the place, FB “friends” and followers out the ass, trolls and lurkers galore, often times the fact remains you have precious few readers who have followed your growth and gone through every transition with you. People who actually have a clue where you’re coming from and what you’re really about.

You pray (ok, hope) new readers have the time and inclination to delve into and sift through your archives. But the simple truth is most won’t. You are your most recent post or the post they landed on. Whether it be recent or something you wrote when you were in diapers, so to speak. Whether it be part 1 of a series or part 28.

And that’s all well and good. That’s the nature of the beast. The upside and downside of this blogging gig. You (meaning I) put it out there so we gotta reap what we’ve sown.

I’m no ingrate. I’m grateful for each and every one of the links to my blog out there. That usually (but not always) means someone is digging something I’ve written.

I like to be read and love to be dug.

However, some people will follow link-love, for example, to a post like “Empty seat on a crowded train,” (one of my first post) or any of my three  “Acts of Retaliation” (where I take the piss out of Japanese,)  TOTALLY ignore the dates and respond.

Now, I ain’t ashamed of anything I’ve written on Loco in Yokohama, and I leave it ALL (ok most of it) up not just so that readers can see from whence I came and get some context, or because I don’t want to have a bunch of links out there leading people to a 404 page not found error, but because I like the continuity of it. Literary documented evidence that I have grown not only as a writer or as an ex-pat,  but as a person!

That I’m not stuck in a rut.

So, when these type readers leave comments on my blog asking questions like, “Are you sure you’re not seeing what you expect to see?” and “Do you think you’re seeing things through your own cultural lenses?” it doesn’t bother me so much because I get it. They haven’t read my work. And dependent on my mood I might suggest they do just that before getting into a discussion with me where I’m forced to re-hash things I’ve covered in depth. Or, I might even direct them to links where their questions are addressed if I’m in customer service mode. I mean, I know my archives are not the easiest to navigate but I have improved my tagging over the years and I did make a page with links to posts where I think readers can get a good feel for what Loco is all about.

My point.

My boy, Homeslice…now, he is not one of my readers. He reads Loco occasionally. Not full on. The main reason Homeslice knows about the issues I write about is because he’s gets it first hand, un-edited, un-embellished, or like The Bad Boy would put it, Raw like Sushi! I run shit by him verbally before it even goes to press sometimes.

And, yes, to him, I have mentioned, among MANY things, that I’ve seen women clutch their purses, as well as men pull their wallets out of their pockets and hold them over their heads once they notice me standing behind them, involuntarily and with no other option mind you. I’ve mentioned a great deal to Homeslice. Our conversations run the gamut and rarely get stuck in one gear (well sometimes they do get stuck on Japanese women, but I loathe to get stuck there and he knows it). If it did I would have unloaded him a long time ago. We talk about real shit which is exactly why I enlisted him in the first place. I get my fill of light and fluffy from my J-friends and co-workers; conversations where I can’t be the unabridged me I’ve learned from experience.

My mind is fueled by the real. Not the bullshit. And, his text sounded like some bullshit to me.

When you write about some of the things I write about you constantly have to ask yourself the above questions. And, my readers know I do this incessantly. I hate to draw conclusions without knowledge or research, and I welcome a challenge. Yes, I am sensitive, and I am very observant. But to have someone, of some intelligence, mind you, someone who has virtually unfiltered access to my thinking process, ask me such inane and obvious questions at first made me doubt myself.

I wondered, damn, is it me?????

I mean, it almost broke my heart.

Have I really overlooked something as obvious as cultural lenses and expectations???


I mean if some first time visitor to my blog came at me like that I’d be fine, but a friend of over two years doing so…well…that took the wind out of my sails and gave me pause.

After my initial ego-maniacal reaction along the lines of “Motherfucker you must be drinking the Chu-Hi, talking to me like that!” I sat in my room and thought it through and gave his admonitions the kind of thoughtfulness a friend’s words deserve.

I mean, I had a serious falling out with my closest friend of 30 years recently (as some of you might have read over at my Posterous blog,) so the whole concept of friendship and its value has been a solicitous theme over the past year or so.  Losing my best friend, essentially my brother, over some regrettable foolishness on both of our parts has more than humbled me. It has been a serious blow to my self-confidence and self-identity. I find myself of late questioning whether I even know how to be a good friend.

So, yeah, I let his words in due to my current vulnerability and gave them their due out of respect to the concept.

I mean, he might have just been talking out the side of his neck. Not really Homeslice’s style, but I had had the thought a few weeks ago that he (like many of us here in Kawaiiland) was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder unawares.

to be continued…


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13 Responses to “Don’t get me wrong…pt.2”

  1. Will 17 May 2011 at 8:57 pm Permalink

    That “Is it me?” feeling
    pays an unwelcome visit to my personal space from time to time.  And the only people I find that I can
    talk to (not too many at that) are folks who tend not to live in a bubble. 
    Select brands of foreigners
    (we from the West) do seem to have our ornamental value.  Some of us seem to hold it (or hold on to it) more than others. My Japan honeymoon didn’t last that long. Maybe that’s
    why I really don’t like environments where I’m expected to play the part. I’ve
    seen a normally poker-faced person’s expression go from almost unreadable to
    incensed when I dared to make a comment that indicated I didn’t know my place.
    To refuse to be seen as a thing is too much for some people. There are people
    who click their teeth, shake their heads, and mutter to themselves. No matter
    how thick my burgundy-tinted goggles are, there’s no denying what I’ve seen
    happen and heard… it’s just that there aren’t many people who seem wiling to
    talk about this kind of stuff. 

    The thought of losing access
    to someone who is unflinchingly honest and intelligent enough to keep the
    dialogue going with questions and observations, the thought of losing someone
    who still cares is not something I am comfortable with.  While I am learning that my friendships
    ebb and flow, there are a few people in life where even if we haven’t seen each
    other for years, when we meet again, the dialogue continues with an intensity
    that seems to just be there like some kind of force.

    My good friend made it a
    point to stop by while he took a break from post-quake Tokyo, not out of fear,
    but out of what he felt was a need to get away from the toxic social
    environment before starting work again in April.  And the incessant shaking.

    I hope your loss, be it
    temporary or permanent, does not hinder your writing. 

    • Locohama 18 May 2011 at 6:01 am Permalink

       Will, thanks yo! Yeah I hope so too…so far it hasn't hindered anything. Quite the contrary. But who knows how long that will last.

  2. Orchid64 17 May 2011 at 9:04 pm Permalink

    I know you haven't reached the end of this yet, but this taps into something which I find frustrating around the world, but is much more common among foreigners in Japan because of the need to repaint acts of overt prejudice as gaijin paranoia. That is, the tendency of people to say, "if I haven't experienced it (or noticed it), it doesn't happen." In order to validate this mindset, they trot out things like saying you are misinterpreting actions, ethnocentric, or "too sensitive". Sometimes a rose is a rose, and you're not mistaking a carnation for a rose. Sometimes you are making a mistake, but when people talk about viewing life in Japan through a cultural lens, they are assuming that you always, often, or usually are seeing roses when there are really carnations.

    We all make mistakes in how we interpret others actions on occasion. We rarely make such mistakes all of the time. And we certainly aren't making a mistake when someone says or does something so overt that it can't be seen as anything other than what it is – an act of racism or prejudice. Frankly, even *I*, a white middle-aged female, have seen people make moves to secure their possessions in my presence. They don't do this because they think I'm going to steal their things. They do it as an act of nervousness. My strangeness makes them uncomfortable, so they do whatever it takes to draw into themselves because it's a tic which makes them secure. It's the same sort of thing which has me ball my fists when I'm walking alone at night and hear footsteps behind me. I don't even see who is behind me (often, it's a Japanese woman), but the circumstances set off an unconscious defensive reaction.

    The important point is that I'm not imagining these behaviors, nor am I misinterpreting the fact that they are in response to my presence. They happen because of me (because I am strange to them), and because of whatever the particular situation is – how full the train is, how close I stand, how much light is in the space, etc. Another foreigner may not set off the same response because they don't interact under the same environmental conditions as me, or they look, dress, stand, or whatever in a way which is for unknown reasons less intimidating. However, just because they don't experience or notice it, that doesn't mean I'm mistaken about this influence I'm having.

    • Locohama 18 May 2011 at 5:59 am Permalink

       I rarely think I'm imagining shit these days. Ive been here long enough to have confirmed over and over again that what i see IS what is. However because he is my friend and someone I trust it gave me pause. Not for long though lol Orchid, thank you so much for continuing to bless Loco with your pearls. Nothing but Love for you!

  3. FuKnWitU 17 May 2011 at 10:42 pm Permalink

     Reading your post and then Orchid64's response it dawned on me for the first time that outside of 1 paranoid induced event I have never regreted any of the people I have struck. They ALL had it coming. Every single fucking one of them. They and I know why they got the brass and everyone else can go fuck themselves. Were it not for my School and the waiting list to get in I might honestly doubt myself because EVERYONE has abondoned me when shit got rough (name in the paper couple times).

    Friends…LOL at  that.

    I have beaten on guys who were getting a piece of my friends ladies ass and ended up losing those friends and in 1 case the couple got back together and cut me cuz I'm "crazy"…No…no…I did WHAT THE FUCK I SAID I'D DO!! Everyone and their fucking beer promises thinking I was fucking around….I don't offer shit like that for fun I was trying to prove my friendship. I hope their ladies are fucking around on them….AGAIN…fucking clowns.

    Friends….met 2 people in my whole fucking life that could claim that title. 2. They proved it through fire cuz if you can't walk through fire for someone than your not their friend. 

    I just hope my wrist doesn't give out before I knock out every single fucking moron that irks me and gets caught outta pocket. I got one person I have given serious thought to (for the second time) just flat out killing. Just fucking kill him and do 12 years or whatever laughing on my head cuz I'm eatin lunch on the tax dime and he's fucking DEAD!!!!

    • Locohama 18 May 2011 at 6:07 am Permalink

       I think we just have to be careful with who we give that title too. I think people, esp here in Japan i've noticed but maybe that's just because I live here, but the word friend means someone I know who isn't family and hasn't done anything gratuitously offensive to me or anyone I care about…and in some cases the definition is even more lax. I've gotten stricter with mine so that like yourself only a couple of people- you know, them fire-walkers- actually can qualify.
      Thanks for the love as always Yo and preserve them wrists for the writing yo!!

  4. Jennifer Bailey 18 May 2011 at 1:24 am Permalink

     Loco, I found your blog while I was actually IN Japan visiting as a tourist.  My husband and I took our kids there – and I felt something I never expected to feel.  Instead of how you read in all the tourist books of how much they love Americans and treat you so well, I felt instead, like we were quite the outsiders.  I think I was googling this sort of thing when your blog popped up.  I started reading it in my hotel room.  I'm one of those people who went back and read /everything/.   

    I don't think you're imagining anything.  I don't think it's you.

    I find that I enjoyed my tourist time in Tokyo – and I'd even like to return.  I can't explain why I also really hated it, but I did appreciate the experience of being an anathema and didn't try to pretend it didn't exist.

    To be perfectly honest, to hone it down – very simplistically, Japan to me seems like an ultimately watered down version of North Korea.  Full of hyper-self-centralized cultural propaganda. They don't really have a religion to get insane about, so they use their culture.  /shrug

    • Locohama 18 May 2011 at 6:11 am Permalink

      LOL Maybe vice-versa…North Korea is a watered down version of these Japanese Mofos. Thanks Jennifer for the shout. I'm glad you found my blog and did the unusual thing and went through the archives. I appreciate it!

  5. Verity Veritas 18 May 2011 at 10:32 am Permalink

    I think it's one thing to say "this doesn't happen to me" and another to say "this doesn't happen to you". The first doesn't necessarily insinuate the second, but in this case I feel you wanted a sympathetic, even empathetic ear from your boy, and he let you down,he was probably the last person you thought you'd hear the "cultural expectations" argument from.

    I don't think what you describe is in your imagination at all and I don't think we can write off their behavior due to a lack of international exposure, "homogeneous society" and all that, because the fact is there are Japanese people who are very internationally savvy and "know enough" not to react the way you see many people react around you, and admittedly how I see people sometimes react around me. I learned that right here on your blog  through your conversations with your students. So if those people can can open their eyes why can't the rest of them?

    I know I've said I don't seem to get it the way you do but I reasoned that it was because "he's bigger than me", "men get it worse", "I haven't been here long enough". But then I read the comments here from women, white women, one who's only been here as a tourist at that and I wonder "OK, what's wrong with *me*"?

    I have no illusions that I've been 'welcomed into the fold" so to speak but I just accept that fact that I'm an outsider as inevitable. I never was good at fitting in back home either so it's nothing new? I came here fully expecting to be ostracized in very obvious ways so since it's more subtle maybe it doesn't sting as much?

    You've been dealing with it for a long time and I don't have anything to add on how to handle it. One thing I won't do is tell you to ignore it, I know how infuriating that can be coming from someone who doesn't have to be there in the thick of it, living it. It's like, "let's see *you* ignore something that feels like emotional equivalent of  hundreds of needles pricking you every day."


  6. Ame Otoko 21 May 2011 at 10:34 am Permalink

    Loco, understand one thing: you live in a protective bubble here, on your immensely ego-massaging blog.

    Understand another – you live in this bubble, surrounded by similarly-inclined people who are, for no want of any better term, constantly masturbating you.

    Shari Custer is a perennial such person – Orchid64. Just now, she whined on her '1000' blog about people in the Tokyo Marathon always 'ruminating. Too damn much' about being in the damn thing. In turn, she ruminates -endlessly – for well over a decade online about this sort of senseless, egoistic garbage Americans like you whine about.

    Not content with her own blog to ruminate her brains out on, she comes here with pesudosagery and jerks you off reassuringly to your – and her – never-ending discontent.

    Jennifer Bailey, you visited Tokyo and you have the entitlement to label all of the nation a 'watered-down North Korea'? Really, eh? Oh my, the white people so worshiped in Japanese advertising and omnipresent – such *cultural propaganda*!

    Loco: calling them Jap'uns 'Japanese Mofos'  only confirms to all and sundry that you are implacably hateful towards the Japanese. All of them. That's all.

    And Orchid64? You're a sad little thing. You and your little 'liberal' husband who loves and glorifies the Iraq War as 'justified'.

    • Locohama 21 May 2011 at 11:01 am Permalink

      I was trying to figure out if you were a Troll or not. Can't decide. You have troll like qualities but some of the things you say are psuedo-perceptive. as u would say. Anyway, what exactly is this bubble protecting me from? I don't get that. I allow people like yourself who clearly disagree with every negative thing said about your believed Japanese. So, what am I being protected from? And if you mean life I live in japan, and i aint protected from any foolishness, trust me on that. The majority of my life is spent outside this bubble you're talking about, out there mixing it up with the masses. Which has its ups and downs- not that you care- all you care about is the fact that i can see the downs as well as the ups and aint afraid or abashed to talk / write about it. Perhaps you'd prefer I take any negative ideas and shove them up my ass, and allow my blog to be like your blog would be if you had one, where instead of getting jerked off by my readers (as you say) I'd be giving Japan the reach around and a happy ending. Is that what you want? Fuck you! Troll I jerk off Japan as much I need to, with pics and onsens, etc…and lovely people too, and who doesn't like a hand job if that what it is? Stop hatin' and go get your own happy ending, they're cheap in Ropponggi….geezus!

  7. jc_89 26 August 2011 at 2:30 am Permalink

    I just discovered this website. I just want to say that my situation is really similar (black guy in Tokyo/Yokohama area, everybody clutches their purse and etc., and most importantly, NOBODY believes me– “I’ve never seen that before. maybe you _____________?”).

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