29 May 2011 ~ 20 Comments

Back to Life Blog Party #6: Spooning with Caroline Josephine

What can I say? In the inimitable words of the King of New Jack Swing, Teddy Riley: It ain’t over! Yep, it’s your boy Loco, back with another suuulammmin blogger from the Japan blogosphere.  She’s only been on the scene since last year so I’m gonna call her a new jack with a mad swag!

Welcome back to:

Before we get started though, here’s another throwback for y’all to set the tone!

Ok, now that Teddy Riley & Guy have you all loose and your juices flowing and whatnot, let’s get it going, shall we?

When I first encountered my next guest’s blog, I must confess, it made me feel like I was drinking that last swallow of Kool-Aid at the bottom of the pitcher where all the undissolved sugar resides . My cavities actually throbbed when I saw her photos for the first time, they were soooo sweet. Before reading a single post, I actually had the thought, “this is the kind of foreigner tailor-made to thrive in Japan, and the kind of adorable blog that japanophiles will drool over!”

…And I kinda dismissed it as too cute to be taken seriously.

But, every time I turned around, on Twitter, in my comment section, on my other blogs, there she was, this Caroline Josephine person, showing me love and speaking her mind on a myriad of issues. So, I hopped back aboard the Sugarland Express and gave it another ride…only this time instead of simply glancing at the purikura pin-ups (fantasizing about spooning with her myself) and shots of J-fashion accessories, I actually read it!

And, in addition to learning that she’s no longer available for spooning, I learned a valuable lesson…again. As Yoda might say: Judged me by my purikura, did you? Mistaken, you were! Yes, I was indeed mistaken, for CJ (as I lovingly call her now) is far from one-dimensional and possessed of far more than an obsession with all things Japanese…thank God. She is actually a complicated individual and I found several of her posts to be entertaining, thought provoking and very well-written. Even her banner, seen above, which I’d originally thought to be too cute for words on second examination was actually adroitly done! So, yes, IMHO, CJ is more than worthy of  New Jack status at my party…and I’m proud to have her.

So, without further ado, CJ? What you got to say? The floor is yours…

1) What’s the Loco-est thing you’ve seen/done in Japan?

I got into a pretty loco shouting match with the JR stationmaster at my station a few months ago. I’m normally not one to argue, especially with some type of authority figure, and I was totally in the wrong, but damnit, I was not going to back down.

Story goes: I rode the train with my fiancé to ‘take him home’ one night. We live on the same line, an hour apart, and whenever he stays with me I ride the train to his station with him, but I usually don’t exit the ticket gates. Instead I ride the train back up past my station, get off, use my Suica to exit, and then voila~ I’ve only been charged140 yen! I then turn around and go back into the ticket gate, getting charged another 140 which beats the 1240 it would cost me to properly exit at his station and then round trip it back.

Anyway, one night I didn’t feel like doing the whole get-off-the-train-walk-up-the-stairs-exit-mutter to myself about how I got off at the wrong station (cuz, ya know, just in case anyone actually notices that I look like an idiot going in and out of the ticket gates)-get-back-on-the-train-save-money ordeal. Instead I decided to chance it and play the ‘gaijin card’ with the stationmaster. I figured I’d do the whole ‘oops, I entered the gates but I’m a stupid foreigner who doesn’t know how Japan works’ deal and just get him to clear my card. It’s not something I normally do… but hey, it’s worked before when I wanted to just pass through Shinjuku station rather than walk around it…

Well, I gave the card to the stationmaster, this short gray-haired unfriendly looking fellow, said ‘oops’ and he put it on his little magic card reader and holy crap… a million stats popped up and not only did it say what station I’d entered by using my card… it said how long it had been since I’d touched the card on the reader! I was not prepared for that. He immediately examined my card (which still has the commuter pass that I used 3 years ago for school printed on it) and started to basically shout at me ‘wtf where you doing for 2 hours!?!’ Only, ya know, in Japanese.

I should have, and could have fessed up… but for some reason I got really pissed. Not only was he shouting at me, he was questioning me! I got snappy back with him and said that I had exited and he was like ‘no, you didn’t!’ and we began to shout back and forth about how yes I HAD exited and how no I HADN’T…. and I started to get really indignant about the whole thing. I couldn’t believe that he was choosing to believe his stupid machine over me! Was it because I’m foreign? Because I’m a woman? Because he thought that I couldn’t keep up with him in Japanese? Whatever the reason, I wasn’t going to back down even though I knew how ridiculous it was that I was defending my own stupid lie for absolutely no reason. I was just too fired up to let go, no matter how in the wrong I was. He yelled that I needed to go back onto the train; I sassed back that I’d already gone in and out at another station. I declared the card broken and he yelled at me that it was impossible. Finally he noticed that there was a line of about 7 people behind me. He glared at me, growled ‘I’m warning you’ and then cleared my card.

After I left the station, I noticed that I was shaking. And it suddenly hit me that he’d read my name on my card. I then began a week of paranoia where I would rush into the station, dash through the gates, hoping that he wouldn’t see me and yell at me even more. I felt really stupid about the whole thing, but really… what was he going to do? Ban me from the JR?

2) Why do you blog about life in Japan?

I actually had this brilliant idea to become internet famous by writing hilarious accounts of my daily life in Japan~ all illustrated with images by my friend J.J. (who drew my header) but… that idea fell to the wayside when I realized that my life wasn’t really that hilarious and I began to integrate more ‘life’ and less humor into my posts and… things have just slowly evolved to where I write about all kinds of different stuff. I try to stick to topics that pertain to my life, but at the same time I’m trying to expand my own writing. I’ve had horrible writers block for the past year and when I started this blog I actually felt inspired to write. Outside of writing in my personal diary, where I record things just so I don’t forget, I really had no desire to put words down on paper. That scared me, and still scares me at times because the only other thing in life that I’ve truly been passionate about (other than Japan) is writing. It only seemed natural that I finally found myself combining the two. I never imagined that my blog would actually gain a following (especially after I gave up the idea of internet fame). So I’m really surprised when I get comments from people who say things like ‘you’re down to earth’ or ‘you have a realistic view on Japan’. Stuff like this really makes me happy because I’ve always hoped that I came off that way… but I was never sure if I did or not. I’ve been told that I’m inspiring, but at the same time I’m inspired a lot by other bloggers. All of this just makes me want to keep on going.

I also found that by writing about my life in Japan I was (and still am) learning more about myself. I’ve started to gain more confidence and began to work out some personal issues by using my blog as a springboard.

I guess it all comes back to the theme from my senior year Creative Writing capstone class: genre theory. The audience demands the content. And I’m more than willing to give.

3) Why do you hate it when people refer to your fiancé as your ‘Japanese fiancé’?

When people say ‘Caroline has a Japanese boyfriend’ I just want to turn around and snap at them that no I don’t have a Japanese boyfriend, I have a boyfriend. Now fiancé. Whatever. Defining him by his nationality, ethnicity, race, whathaveyou is just stupid. And it makes it sound like I have a whole gaggle of other guys. Like yes, Kenjer is the Japanese one, along with Jon the American, Tae the Korean, Paul the Frenchman, and Frank from Sweden. No. I don’t have a collection of boyfriends that I need to keep sorted out by assigning them labels based on where they’re from.

I understand that people are curious, and that the idea of a white girl being with a Japanese guy is shocking and amazing and wonderful and just so omg. Then I get all kinds of stupid questions like do I use him to study Japanese or does he use me to learn English and I’m just like what I can’t even.

Do not call him my Japanese fiancé. I would rather have an exchange with someone says ‘do you have a boyfriend?’ and I say ‘actually I have a fiancé’ and then they say ‘oh, is he from here?’ and then I say ‘yeah, he lives in Tokyo’ and then they say ‘Oh, is he Japanese?’ and then I say ‘yeah, but it’s cool’. I get way less stupid questions that way. Or at least slightly relevant stupid questions. But there’s just such a stigma that is attached to the whole ‘gaijin dating a nihonjin’ thing and… it really bothers me. I hate being seen as someone who came to Japan to score a man. Or like I’m lucky because ‘I got one’. Or that he’s just with me to get something that only an American could give him.

I mean seriously. If was dating a man from Mexico and I went around saying ‘My Mexican boyfriend’ I would get into so much shit.

We’re together because we’re two people who fell in love and have worked hard at making it work. Sure we have language and culture issues at times, but you get that even by dating someone from a different region within your own country. I don’t attribute any of it to him being Japanese.

Caroline Josephine

Wow! Right?

@CJ Thank you so much! After reading this I’m sure readers can see why I dig you so much! You’re the shiznit!

@Readers- If you think the above was something, you’re in for a treat when you get to her blog!

And…tell her Loco sent ya!

And, please don’t forget to keep Praying for Japan! People are still struggling and suffering!

If you haven’t gotten your copy of Quakebook 2:46 yet, well, it ain’t just gonna materialize on your Kindle! See that big ass link on my sidebar? Use it! And spread the word. A paper version, as well as a Japanese version, are coming soon!

This party WILL continue…

Loco

Who is this guy, Loco, anyway? Click here!

PS: Click on the links below to catch the previous guest DJs!

Blog Party #1:Saboten Girl

Blog Party #2:Wakarahen

Blog Party #3:Bad Boy!

Blog Party #4:Verity

Blog Party #5:Green Eyed Geisha

 

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20 Responses to “Back to Life Blog Party #6: Spooning with Caroline Josephine”

  1. Anonymous 29 May 2011 at 4:04 am Permalink

    Caroline is my no-bullshit homegirl. Word.

  2. Alice 29 May 2011 at 1:47 pm Permalink

    Great interview! Caroline is pretty awesome, for sure :D

  3. みか☆ちゃん 29 May 2011 at 3:46 pm Permalink

    Aw I love her! Her blog is so great and she's such a nice person! I love reading her blog! ^o^

  4. sarahf 29 May 2011 at 4:42 pm Permalink

    I love Caroline's blog. She comes across as really thoughful and reflective.

  5. Caroline Josephine 29 May 2011 at 9:12 pm Permalink

    First of all, thank you so much for letting me take a turn at the DJ stand Loco. It's really great to know how you felt about my blog and how you feel now… honestly I remember you left me a comment once, I basically fangirled about it, and you never spoke to me again ;_; My friend (New Type lady down there as the first commenter) told me about your blog and when i first came by I was like 'meh~ just another guy talkin' about how hard life is when you're a gaijin in Japan' but then I decided that I wasn't being fair, gave your blog another look, and discovered all kinds of goodies. So… kinda ironic that we both had kinda 'meh' first impressions of each other. Seriously, love your stuff, and wish I could comment (and read) more.

    Koo-laid. Hilarious! That whole bit is so honest, I love it. I think because my blog is so new, and because I really didn't know where I was going with it (and kinda still don't) I was just trying to reach all kinds of readers. Fashion, culture, Japanophile… but really I want to just portray Japan the way I see it and experience it. I don't want my blog to be about cute new fashions or full of my face looking all crazy in purikura. I stared it to write, and I'm glad that I'm growing into it more. I think maybe when I first came here I was the happy-go-lucky 'everything is great because I live in JAPAN :D' girl that you assumed that I was… but I defiantly have some beef with this country at times.

    And I love you forever for the yoda reference ;D

  6. Lisa W 29 May 2011 at 1:48 pm Permalink

    Awesome interview! I’ve followed Caroline’s blog for a bit but felt like I learned more about her reading this too. Now to try to schedule in a meet up! ;) 

    • Caroline Josephine 29 May 2011 at 11:26 pm Permalink

      I'm happy to hear that this shed even more light on who I am and what I do :Db And yes!!!! I'll tweet you about that soon :)

  7. Verity Veritas 29 May 2011 at 2:36 pm Permalink

    Wow, I can’t believe you bitched out a JR station guy hahaha.

    It seems like you and Kenjer are the real deal from what I’ve read. It’s great to see and I wish you the best together!

    • Caroline Josephine 30 May 2011 at 2:08 am Permalink

      I can’t believe I did it either. It was so stupid too! Like… when I’m actually in the right I don’t even defend myself that well! lol.

      Aww thank you :)

  8. Gabriella - the step 30 May 2011 at 5:39 pm Permalink

    I love how you describe that he is not your'Japanese boyfriend' and that you don't have a collection of boyfriends that need to be given labels – I've never thought about it as such. I'm going to kiindly borrow this reaction for future use. ;)

  9. elle marie 12 June 2011 at 3:07 pm Permalink

    Well Said Caroline! I too hate the stigma that is associated, but when they hear my last name, they don't even bother… Yamamoto doesn't get more Japanese than that..lol Isn't love supposed to be an international language anyway? I applaud you for not letting it define you!

  10. old hippie 13 June 2011 at 12:20 pm Permalink

    Ummm… my son is married to a gal from Zimbabwe and my daughter is married to some dude named 'Garza' [I'm French] and my poor suffering wife is Irish and Indian. If they have a problem about 'mixed race' marriages tell them to go piss up a tree.
    @ spooning, give all the naysayers the one finger salute! Just follow your heart, and best wishes, eh!


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