Thursday 26 September 2013

Loco in Hyogo!

OK, Loco in Yokohama but through the wonders of modern technology, Loco came into my living room for an intimate little chit chat. Ain't modern gizmos grand?!
But in all seriousness,writing a book, like most big achievements in life, is something that few people will ever get round to actually doing. In the blogging world it’s even more frustrating, because there are people all over the place who love writing, but they can never push their lazy arses beyond the safety of a blog. Loco, already famous round these here parts, needs no introduction. He is not only talented but he has had the will and drive to write not one, but two books in what seems to me to be a very short amount of time to me. Maybe he has a warehouse full of Japanese girls in mini-skirts and false eyelashes typing for him, who knows. But I have come to respect and ponder his opinions and take on all things Japan, plus I share his love of ramen so how could we not get along. I asked him a few questions before, but here are 7 more minutes in heaven with Loco! (Don’t be a cunt, buy his book!)


1)    So Loco, another book?? What, one published masterpiece wasn’t enough for you??

Nah...won't be satisfied until my name becomes synonymous with the best writing on life in Japan for non-Japanese on the market, my name goes down in history as one of the finest writers of our time, and I can pay off my debts with money to spare. I suspect I'm gonna need a few more masterpieces before I achieve any of the above. That's of course, accepting the premise that my first book and this one are masterpieces, which I'm too superstitious to do. I'll leave that to the readers to decide. But thanks for the vote of confidence. Coming from a talented writer like you, that means a lot!


2)    What makes this book different to the first one?

Well, the first book was about the racist inclinations I've experienced (and seen in others) over the course of my entire life, a pretty extensive and unsparing study on a personal level. This new book is nothing like that. It begins and remains in nearly the present, and its focus is not directly on race (though as a foreigner living in Japan as it stands, pretty much race, to some degree, is a factor in practically every equation whether we want to acknowledge / accept that fact or not) but on relationships. I believe ones experience here, and everywhere, depends a great deal on the relationships one forms, and this book deals directly with the relationships I've formed through working here as a teacher, with both the students and the teachers. 

3)    Why should we buy your books and not just read your blog?
Actually, you should do both, if you're so inclined. While the material in the book is derived from material that once graced the pages of my blog (I pulled it a couple of years back in anticipation of this), unless you're a long-term reader of the blog, this material will be entirely new to you. And even if you are a long-time reader, the blog version of these stories were like a first draft parceled out in morsels. I've weaved those stories into a cohesive hole, which I believe is a great deal more substantial than the sum of its parts. Again I'll leave it to those handful of readers who have been down with Loco in Yokohama since its inception-- assuming they even recall these tales-- to decide if I've done them justice in the editing process.

4)    Due to the wonders of social media I’ve been seeing some video shenanigans going on, what’s all this about?? I’m guessing this is good news for those of us with short attention spans?
Indeed! Your boy, Loco has been putting together something of a documentary-style book trailer. I don't want to give too much away, but I was motivated by a need to know what kind of impact my presence here in Japan has made among Japanese people, and so it will contain candid interviews with a dozen or so Japanese people giving their impressions of Loco. I won't say it'll be ideal for those with attention spans as short as squirrels, but if you can sit through an entertaining and enlightening 10-15 minutes of real talk from real folk, in nihongo (subtitled of course), you're sure to enjoy this!

5)    Describe your life in Japan in 5 words.
Hilarious, Hortative, Humbling, Hypocritical and Hentai (just kidding...kinda) I mean Hygienic.


6)    Your material is focused a lot on racism, (Do I sound racist asking that question?!) how do you think your experience in Japan / as a writer would be different if you were white?
If I were white??? Well, that's a difficult question. I can't even imagine how I'd view , or how I'd be viewed, in the world, let alone Japan, if I were white. The way I see white, as I explained in my first book, is as varied as black. I don't even think nationality can quite limit the mindsets that fall under that umbrella term white. I approach people as individuals, not as a member of a race, and I expect the same courtesy and consideration in return... It took a great many years and experiences to get to that frame of mind, and that approach to humanity. I thought I had gotten to a point when I was incapable of going back to the mindset where I'd see not only race but make certain presumptions about the person based on that racial designation. That was a much simpler task in New York, I gotta tell ya. It was once I moved to Japan that I found myself slowly and insidiously ceasing to do that, and ultimately viewing Japanese through a single racial lens, that I realized a great deal about myself. And that was one of the issues that prompted me to write the book, "Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist".

But, from what I've observed and learned of Japanese ideas about and treatment of so-called white people, I would imagine that if I were white, but still somehow me (which is, I think, impossible) I would like to think I'd realize that I've actually been given the rare opportunity to view privilege from another perspective, from an underprivileged point of view. What it feels like to be on the business end of stigmatization, asserted generalizations, or even undeserved aggrandizement and worship. As a writer, what would I do with that amazing gift? This Jonathan Swift's Gulliver-esque slant on the world? Again, I'd like to think I'd use it to help people understand how those privileges came to be, the inherent responsibilities of being privileged, and the likeliness and dangers of abusing said privileges. And perhaps I'm guilty of being as overly critical or highly sensitive as Swift when it comes to human nature. But that's just me imagining.

7)    So what’s next? World tour? Japan tour? Another book? Give us a sneak peek!
Well, another book, and another, and another, until I'm satisfied, which I can't imagine I'll ever be. A world tour would be nice. Let's see how this book does. I still think the first book hasn't reached its fullest potential yet. A Japan tour seems likely, but again I have to wait until the reviews are in. People ultimately hold my fate as a writer in their hands. If people demand the world know of me, then that will happen. If they insist I vanish into obscurity, than that too will happen. Happens all the time. I'm of the mind that my job as a writer is to seek truth through writing. In my first book, as readers learned, I'm not afraid to "go there" and to do so with purpose and forthrightness. I've done so again with this book, I believe. As I will with my next project, which is essentially an un-scholarly black history book written from a personal perspective, unrelated to Japan this time. We'll see if the world wants a piece of Loco!

 Thanks again for having me, Corinne! You're the best, and I know most of the people charmed by and able to fully appreciate your brilliance and frankness are pretty damn cool, too. When my "Japan Tour" comes through your neck of the woods, expect me to pop up at your door one day bearing gifts.
As I've mentioned before, Loco is a perfect gentleman, I've never had the pleasure of meeting him in real life but it would be an honour to do so!

Wednesday 11 September 2013

New ventures

I'm all about stability. Security. Safe. Constant.

Which is why I fit in so well in Japan (despite totally sticking out). I don't necessarily like the old 'nail that sticks out' philosophy, but honestly, I'm comfortable enough with it. Which kind of negates my foreignness here to be honest, I'm not meant to agree with the whole lemming ideology, I'm foreign! I'm meant to be loud and obnoxious and disagree! And on some things I do, but on most things, I'm quite contented to keep my big mouth firmly shut and keep going.

So why the hell did I marry Ryota who is the total opposite?!?! Oh that's right, I was preggers... Oops.

But then maybe I got to thinking that it wasn't just because I got pregnant, maybe it was because if I married someone totally similar to me, I'd get bored, or get stuck in a rut and go slightly mental...? Nah, it probably was just because I got pregnant, but it's nice to romanticise the whole thing sometimes...

So Ryota has never been a 'same company for life' guy, he's not a salary man, which is the first step I guess. Once Ash was born he started working for the city, which was his way of trying to settle down, but he's just not cut out for the Japanese way of licking your boss' arsehole for 40 years until you get your pension. I'm not all that bothered about the arsehole licking, if I liked my job, it paid reasonable well and I was generally happy I think I could be a salary man type. Which is weird considering now Ryota has the stable arse licking job and I have my own business prone to risk and sudden changes.

I like owning my own school though, I wouldn't change it for anything, which is where we have a slight hiccup. Maybe not even a hiccup, but a hiccup of sorts for a person like me who is prone to worry about change. At the moment, I earn more than Ryota, but my income isn't stable, it can fall and rise from month to month. It never varies that much, but it very well could and I'm aware of this. Where as Ryota's salary is constant, we can always depend on it, bar him falling out of a tree while cutting it or something like that. And the hiccup comes when Ryota wants to quit his job AKA my security blanket, and go out on his own.

And the thing that is making it so hard, is that I'm sure he'll be successful, maybe more successful than me, but any business is a risk. My business was/is a risk, but we always had Ryota's salary to fall back on if anything happened. If Ryota starts his own business in all likelihood we'll have two successful businesses and more money that we do now, but there will also be factors like his starting up period when the pressure is on me, the fact that winter will be an off season for him, and just the general stress of being a two business household.

So it freaks me out a little! Although there is BIG money in his type of work, just recently he did a one and a half day job for ¥60,000, and that is the cheap end!
I want to support him, and relaying my fears of the risks come across as negativity, so I'm reluctant, especially when he's always supported my efforts with the school. Maybe blogging those fears will make it a bit easier.

I've become more and more safe as I get older, no more tattoos, roller coasters have started to scare me a bit, I worry about sleeping with my shoulders bare, but maybe I just have to say, "fuck it" and not worry about the risks, there is part of me that realises his and/or my failures would lead to a new adventure anyway.

Monday 9 September 2013

Keeping the peace

So it has been over 2 months that dog fucker and I have been fighting, which is long for me! It helped that I really don't like her so I didn't feel guilty at all. I did feel guilty for Ryota, MIL and Grandma though, I know first hand how stressful it can be to live in an environment where you're torn between two fighting family members.

So we've been civilly ignoring each other lately, but there were more fireworks on Friday night when I did a late night coffee run and managed to totally piss dog fucker off. I asked if anyone wanted anything, but I asked MIL, so it looked like I was asking MIL and not dog-fucker. I get that she thought I was being hostile by not asking her directly (because I kinda was) but what the fuck else did she expect me to do?? "Hmmm haven't talked to you in months dog-fucker, and we're quite openly fighting, but can I get you a coffee... cake... high tea perhaps??" I felt it was just awkward to ask her directly, so I didn't. And she had a hissy fit, and Ryota went mental at her for being a big baby about it. (God bless the man he can be an absolute wanker but he does always defend me in these situations!) I just wanted to ignore it and keep the ignoring up, but Grandma was like, "You should apologise Corinne!" and then I lost it and told them to quit poking their beaks in and slammed the door. Which was possibly childish, but standing in the genkan with all of them (seemingly) up against me when I felt like I had no other choice, got a bit rat-in-a-corner-ish.

So I was actually really upset that night, because I don't like fighting, I don't thrive on making other people miserable, and I was contemplating the fact that not only was I away from my real family, but that I may very well be left with no Japanese family either. Scary for me, I'm a total cuddle while sleeping person, I don't like being alone for long periods of time.

So the next morning Ryota went to work and I was getting ready to go teach, when dog fucker came over and said "Do you have a minute...?" And I was all shocked and unprepared and kind of apprehensive without Ryota there. So she said she didn't want to apologise for the original fight but she didn't want to keep fighting. And I was like, 'Yeah, pretty much me too.' So we basically agreed to disagree on the movie issue, I apologised for the coffee run debacle and I promised that the next time I was pissed off with her, I would try really hard just to yell and get it over with. I'll NEVER be anything close to friends with dog fucker, but it is much better for all involved when we can be normal around one another!

Not much else is happening, I'm busy working and dieting, Ryota is busy working and getting ready to start his own business (another post, but it's going well!!) kids are good, life is boring!