one of those days

I hate that people in Tokyo DO NOT GIVE A SHIT about those around them (unless they're paid to or are otherwise forced to interact). They do not move their share of halfway to avoid a collision with the person walking towards them; they do not hold a door open for you even if you're right on their heels; they do not refrain from pushing-without-actually-touching-or-making-eye-contact their way around small spaces (men of Japan, I'm looking at you*). We are all part of a moving, breathing society and are not just individual bubbles, sealed off from each other - and it absolutely eats at me, some days chomping and some days nibbling but always consuming, that people here just will not acknowledge that. I hear the counterargument that living in such a crowded, fast-paced environment necessitates some degree of shutting yourself off from the onslaught, a defense mechanism against the lack of personal space. But you know what, I lived in New York City, and it's the same crowded mess there (plus smelly and dirty to boot), but at least when someone bumps into you they acknowledge the fact of your existence instead of refusing to even look at you.

Granted, it's considered rude to be direct here - for example, in business settings (which seem to be the slowest in the march towards westernization**), you're not supposed to make direct eye contact upon meeting someone for the first time, initially directing your conversation instead to the business card they hand you. I understand this and, as strange and annoying as I may find it, I do appreciate it as one of the many cultural differences between Japan and the US. But the alternative here seems to be passive-aggressiveness - full-on elbow into my boob and not owning up to it (true story), pushy-pushy me first into the elevator even though none of us are going anywhere until everyone's in ANYWAY, SIR.

I am usually a very nice and reasonable person (just trust me on this one) - quick to say please and thank you, excuse me and sorry. I am also one of those people that doesn't take shit from anybody. Thus, I am always happy to hold open a door for you if you're behind me; but if you're coming through and I don't see the beginnings of a Thank you making its way out of your mouth, I will let the door go and hope it hits you. If we are on paths that look like they'll collide, I am always ready to move to the side - as long as you do too - so that we don't bump into each other; but if you don't, then neither will I and I will not hesitate to roll over your foot while walking my bike past you in the same straight line I was headed (true story). So perhaps one of the worst things about all this individuals-in-a-bubble shit is the person it's turning me into. I find myself way too often in the "if you don't..." scenario, which pisses me off and has resulted in a habit of doing MY part, moving MY share of halfway and not an inch more, bracing my arm to "accidentally" jostle the other person in passing; or turning around to face someone who has just bumped me a little too hard, glaring or saying something to make them look at me. I don’t like always being in battle mode, it's frustrating and exhausting and it MAKES ME ANGRY. But hell if I am going to be bobbling around trying to avoid people who aren't trying to avoid me (because I am stubborn like that). I don't look for confrontation and I certainly don't enjoy it; but if it's warranted I won't shy away from it.

End of rant.
Aunt Flo, see you in a day or two.

* I consider these to be societal sins whether you have boobs or a penis, but I'm looking at the men because in my experience, they are the sinners more often than women are. And in any case, bullying around a person smaller than you (which I pretty much always am with the men, and almost never with the women), well that just ain't right.
I am not in any way implying that westernization is the best way or the right way; it's simply "the" way things are headed.


can i maybe just... lick it?

I was at the supermarket again yesterday, and The Box was gone! Someone bought the $400 pair of mangoes, and I missed my chance at a new life filled with gold and diamonds!* In place of The Box, though, was a smaller box. I thought it was really nice of them to consider those of us mere mortals who are unable to buy a pair of mangoes for $400, and allow us the option of buying just one for $200.

for those times when money's tight and you're waiting for the next paycheck

* I am familiar with the old adage that riches won't buy happiness, but who are we kidding, it comes close enough. (I kid, I kid!)


lifestyles of the rich and crazy (or Japanese)

The fruits and vegetables here in Japan look so perfect, they almost seem fake (and they're not just all brawn and no brains - they almost always taste better than their American counterparts). As we all know, though, getting beauty both inside and out doesn't come cheap - it definitely costs a pretty penny to get your daily fruits and veggies here. Some fruits, though - and I still haven't figured out what sets them apart, nor whether anyone buys them - cost up to a BAJILLION TIMES what they would cost back home.

To wit:

Triangle watermelon (don't ask - I don't know) - $70
Round watermelon - $100

Watermelon-in-a-cage (again, don't ask - I know not) - $150

Mangoes - $70 each (bet you can't buy those off a truck on the side of the road)

And, the grand finale, which I unfortunately don't have a picture of as I was too sticker-shocked to do anything but stare with my mouth slightly open - a box of two mangoes, priced at 40,000 yen. Which equals, approximately, $400. In case you missed it the first time, that is for two mangoes. People, that is TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS a mango. I may have to go back to the supermarket to stake out that box, follow the buyer and beg for a place in their hopefully generous heart and, more importantly, their gold- and diamond-encrusted home.


i know you are but what am i?

Is it just me, looking at this from outside the country and thus somewhat removed, or is all this presidential campaigning business getting out of hand? I can't say that I've been following closely enough to really have as informed an opinion as I'd like about Hillary vs. Obama, though I think I've been getting an Obama vibe for awhile now (based on not much more than a hunch and some warm fuzzy feelings about Michelle).

And I usually shy away from talking about politics (mostly because, see above, I don't know enough to have an intelligent conversation about it) but I just have to say that lately, Hillary has really been getting on my nerves. I mean really, Hillary, wipe the brown off your nose, it's a little too obvious that you're saying anything it takes to pander to your audience of the hour. Telling gun supporters that your dad took you out on a little lake behind a little cottage that your grandfather built (perhaps chopping not only the wood but the trees the wood came from while your grandmother churned butter between salting the pork and hanging the wash on the line while knee deep in snow), and taught you how to shoot a duck with a shotgun? What a convenient, perfect little story from the senator of New York and former First Lady with a net worth of about a bajillion dollars who, just to be clear, is not an elitist and is JUST LIKE YOU AND ME.

Obama, please choose your words more carefully from now on. We all mis-speak (just ask your sniper fire-dodging opponent), but there's no need to give Hillary anything more to latch onto, twist into something else and beat into the ground.


please ignore the puddle of drool collecting at my keyboard...

...as I wipe my lick marks off my monitor, thanks to this food blog I randomly came across. It's a shame ingredients are so hard to come by here in Japan.

It's also a shame that I'm probably too lazy to actually go out and try to hunt them down, ingredient by ingredient (because no, it would be way too easy for all of them to actually be in the same place here).

So... back to drooling.

in other news...

So, how 'bout that PREGNANT MAN? You know, the one that used to be a woman, then had a sex change operation to become a man, but kept the female reproductive organs because s/he wanted to have a child one day? As a man. Which I guess was a good thing, because he is now carrying a child, the result of artificial insemination, which was performed at home. By his wife.

To be clear, I am not knocking the sex change, nor the subsequent marriage, nor the couple's decision to have children. All of that is part of a normal life that I strongly believe everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, is entitled to. And I am absolutely of the opinion that many traditional gender roles have no place in today's society (and by that, I'm talking more about the expectation that each gender has specific roles, such as the woman cooking and cleaning and raising the kids and the man out hunting and breadwinning, and less about the actual choices that individuals make).

But I'm struggling with this particular situation. On one hand, is it really that different for the father instead of the mother to be physically carrying and then popping that kid out, than it is for the father to assume any other "traditionally female" role such as raising the child after it's born? I mean, the father used to be a woman, and obviously has the mental and emotional capacity to bear a child. After that, all you need is the hardware, and he obviously has that as well. On the other hand, daddy dearest is no longer a woman - granted, he still has female reproductive parts (hmm, I wonder whether he also has male bits) but self-identifies as a male, which I think is the key factor. And men are simply not meant - biologically, physiologically, whatever the proper term is - to bear children. This guy is having his cake and eating it too, and whether you look to a higher being or to science for guidance on these matters, that somehow just feels... wrong.

So, moving on, let's now discuss that baby-making incestual couple. I actually don't have the words to expresss my reaction to this, so will go with these three: mouth, hanging, and open. And um, judge, your solution was to ban them from having sex with each other? Did you post a sentry in the bedroom to enforce this? And can anyone enlighten me, what does it actually mean to have been "released on a good behavior bond"? Released them from the no-hanky-panky ban, for a few hundred dollars? I actually don't even know where to go with this topic, so um, yeah. There's that.