Friday, May 28, 2010

Fingers, not legs, crossed.

I have been to a number of places in Tokyo for, as someone once eloquently put it, female problems. Some have been better than others but in general it all feels very sixties housewife visiting the ladies doctor only to be told she has caught "hysteria." One clinic I went to even offered a "bridal check," which name alone makes me shudder. Apart from the white-glove lady attitude and hoist-me-up-and-spread-em torture chairs, one thing I have received at all of them is praise for my vigilance in receiving annual check-ups. This despite the general feeling I get that annual checks are not highly encouraged (apart from ward offices) outside of these clinics and once you visit one, well, you hardly need encouragement then, do you?

I don't think doctors here enjoy visits with patients unless there are cold, hard symptoms. Case in point: I visited a doctor last month about a persistent sore throat and when he couldn't figure out what to do upon noting that my throat was not inflamed, he immediately suggested shoving a camera up (down?) my nose. More recently, I visited the lady doctor about something that, while not an imminent threat, had been bothering me for almost a year. There was also the small matter of when I put it into google, it popped up alongside words like cancer, HIV, menopause - none of which I hope apply to me. Don't be alarmed dear readers, I probably just have an imbalance (haha), but it's driving me to distraction.

When I explained it to the lady doctor she gave me a look that I have interpreted as and you are coming to me, why? She hemmed, hawed and sucked some air through her teeth (ostensibly to kill time and make me think she was concerned) and eventually suggested I go off the pill. Which I have been on for eight years. Which if combined with another form of birth control makes me feel invincible, or at least immune to a baby. The lady doctor wasn't very encouraging and I felt like she was just giving me some homework to do so she wouldn't have to see me for a few months. We sat there blinking at each other for a few minutes while I waited and hoped she would come up with some more suggestions but she wasn't going to throw me a crumb. Fuck, I got more information off google than her.

In conclusion, I am going off the pill for a few months to see what happens, and by that I do not mean see if I get pregnant. I'm not thrilled to have to go off it and am more than a little paranoid about landing pregnant, especially in light of recent situations that include potent sperm that is related to the beau's. So dear readers, keep your fingers crossed for me - I have too much to do before I even think about sex as a procreational activity.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Down the hatch

I was enjoying an iced latte at the corner Starfucks in Nihonbashi after work two evenings ago, when I thoughtlessly ran my tongue around along the inside of cheek and noticed something was missing. Now I don't usually sit on the corner tonguing myself but for whatever reason I did and I have my unconscious mind to thank for that.

You may have already guessed, but the Kaisha is not exactly the kind of environment where facial piercings are embraced. Shocking, I know, but stay with me here. Child that I am - and notice how I didn't qualify that with "rebellious" for I didn't have much to rebel against as a teen - I am not ready to give up my piercing. Despite being an aspiring corporate drone, I cannot bear to take it out yet, even though it's so small some people don't even notice it. So for most of the week, I leave only the back part of the jewellery in, and it generally doesn't protrude from my face. I guess you could say I am going undercover at work, pretending to be a well-heeled office lady when really, I just wanna rock up to a bar with my facial piercing and order a stiff drink. Only I am so not a badass.

When I was interviewing for jobs here, an older slightly pervy male acquaintance from my Waseda days suggested that I take out my piercing for interviews in Japan. I was kind of offended, thinking he should know that I know piercings are not job appropriate. But of course, I was forgetting that the mere fact I have a facial piercing must mean that I don't know what is appropriate, good or proper. I remember years ago a family friend emailed my dad an article about the relationship between pierced adolescents and academic performance, sexual risk-taking and the parent-child relationship, which caused him to scoff since I excelled in school and him and my mom knew pretty much most of what I was doing. Incidentally, this (now ex) friend turned out to be a lying scoundrel who had cheated on his wife for the duration of their decade-long marriage.

Not that North America has become so liberal on tattoos and piercings in public, but compared to Japan, it's pretty out there. I don't expect to work as a professional anywhere with a facial piercing but piercing is on the whole a lot more accepted, common and accessible across the Pacific. All reactions to my piercings in Japan have been of surprise, amusement and curiosity. I'm sure it helps that I don't usually look like a much of a wack-job. If you go to one of the more youthful areas of Tokyo (Shibuya, Harajuku, etc.), piercings are fairly easy to spot but I've rarely seen them on anyone older than teenagers or not part of a "scene" that tends to attract pierced followers. This isn't at all surprising in the country where new graduates who have streaked their hair with brown during university dye it back to a uniform black once they enter the job market. Earlier this year I was accosted by a guy with homemade fliers while walking through Shinjuku station. He implored me to take one and attend the heavy metal live show it was advertising. When he kept bugging me to take one despite telling him I wasn't interested, I finally turned to him and confessed that I was more into hip hop, but thanks. I'm not sure that a purple pencil skirt and heels scream heavy metal but maybe he had noticed my piercing?

In the seven or so years I've had my piercing, I've never swallowed it. During my Pure days it used to come unscrewed from talking a mile-a-minute at a club or violently making out with someone outside a club, and I somehow recall once rooting around in the pavement cracks at 6am trying to find the front half that had fallen off while waiting for the Koenji McDonald's to open. I don't know, I guess I used to be kind of classy like that. On and up, that's what I always say.

Frankly, I think the fact that I haven't had to replace the jewellery I wear in the piercing since I left Japan at the end of my year on exchange may be a testament to moving on and up. I actually lost both parts of the jewellery a couple times while on exchange, which always left me desperately phoning around Tokyo to find a place open that could replace it before the hole closed up. During one of these times I met a super nice and laid back piercer guy from back home who gave me the down low on piercing in Japan. He even went so far as to suggest that I leave instructions in Japanese on how to take my piercing out in my wallet in case I ever got into an accident. His reasoning was rather than figure out how to unscrew it, a Japanese doctor would tear or cut it out. Lovely. Another time I met a great deadlocked Italian guy who would serve you iced tea in the bright airy tattoo studio he worked out of before sticking you with a needle.

Did you know that most places to get pierced are medical clinics here? I didn't and am unfortunately too lazy to try and find the law about it but there are very few piercing salons, studios, what have you, for the express purpose of man-made holes. I know body modification is regulated by law overseas too, but for some reason in Japan this has resulted in clinics offering piercing as a medical procedure, rather than the ubiquitous incense-fused shops overseas. To tell you the truth, I would much rather go to a piercer whose profession it is to get your hole healed, than to a quack doctor who took a quick course in body piercing before adding it to the menu. Not that they're all like that but you know the way my mind works.

Back to my evening Starfucks session. It quickly dawned on me that I had swallowed my jewellery during the course of the day and had nothing to put in the hole to keep it open. One of the places I went before was closed, and the other no longer in existence, so I began to scroll through pages of Google babble bullshit before finding only three piercing studios in Tokyo. The next day I ended up at Extreme, which is a short walk up the narrow road next to Forever21 in Harajuku. People, if you are looking to get a hole opened in Tokyo, go here. Clean, professional and the two guys who run it are really nice. And OCD about sanitation. They didn't have the size I needed so I have a glass retainer in until my order arrives. I am almost tempted to get another hole but unfortunately, there's nothing I want done. So now here I am with a bit of glass sticking out of my face and hoping that no one notices and that the fluorescent office lights don't catch it when I am talking to someone. But wait, I never talk to anyone, so in this case, my systematic ostracization is actually working in my favour. Yes.

Circle of Life and the one where I find a use for the Sound Princess

I'm not sure where to even begin to tell you the truth, but I figure some Christmas-covered cock is a good way to start.

I know I don't often post pictures, which would help to break up my wordy and lengthy diatribes, but I can't help but share this with you, dear readers. I can't tell you whether they just forgot to take down the Christmas lights or the his and hers bell set is always adorned with a light display. It was my first time at this Chinese joint that we wandered into after a string of places beginning in Aoyama and ending with Heartland, home of foreign men in polyester ties. I was both surprised and delighted to glance over while wiping my hands on my oshibori and find this bell and dong (?) set. Long story short I threw my credit card at the cab driver when we pulled up to my apartment building and jumped out to enjoy my Peking duck a second time. The next day on our way to lunch I pointed out the crime scene to the beau and was dismayed to find a small bird enjoying my Peking duck in the rain. If I wasn't such a hearty girl I would have turned right around and hid under the covers but I was hungry so I told myself some unfortunate salaryman had made the quickly disappearing mess and soldiered on. Charming I know.

This weekend was full of discoveries, for I have finally gotten on board with a pro-Sound Princess attitude. Sure I'll use it as much as the next kaisha ho, but I really don't like the idea behind it. You may feel similarly if you are female and in Japan. Come back and tell me how you feel when you're heaving into the toilet on Monday morning but don't want anyone to know. The Sound Princess came through for me, and for that, I am thankful. But not pregnant, so don't get any ideas about me following in Baby Mama's footsteps.

Indecent Proposal

As I told you in my previous post, I met an older distinguished gentleman (is there any other kind?) at a party in Hiroo a while back, who essentially tried to make me his sugar baby. Did I happen to mention that he smokes a pipe?

This codger was older than anyone at the party by at least twenty years (I'm guessing he's in his sixties, although frankly, he could be in his seventies and blessed with those good Japanese skin genes), so I initially wrote him off as an old kook who had shown up at the wrong party but had potential as an interesting conversation partner. The warning signs began to litter our conversation but for the first little while it was quite pleasant hearing his stories about Tokyo back in the day and I almost considered sitting on his lap (and possibly crushing him) like Santa so I could loop my arms around his leathery old neck much as I imagine one does to their grandfathers when young, while he explained the concept of yase gaman, or fake stoicism. The term apparently dates back to the Edo period, to where he traces his own family lineage, making him an eddoko. This must explain his penchant for Minato-ku (apparently he never leaves it) and disdain for anything outside of the Yamanote line (Asakusa is not Tokyo according to him). I suppose my own humble area of Nihonbashi makes me about as good as someone from Saitama or Chiba in his eyes. Lucky for me, it didn't disqualify me from the running and Mr. Yamamoto soon pulled out a business card from the pocket of his dapper suit and told me to call him. On a landline. You'd think the first idea into my head would be I'm not calling you but instead, I wondered Isn't he worried about his wife picking up? Let's go on a date, he said.

Apparently there isn't a Mrs. Yamamoto, so I suppose you could say I met one of Tokyo's most eligible bachelors. Eligible and without cellphone. When asked about this, he told me they were a pain in the ass but that I could call him on his landline anytime, day or night. After a brief discussion on the demerits of young Japanese people today, it came out that I was Jewish and thus intellectually brilliant (his conclusion, not mine). I was mildly impressed that he had actually met real live Jews before and said yes, I would be delighted to join him for some matzo ball soup at a deli in Mita. His ease with stereotypes should have tipped me off to the disparaging homophobic remarks he would later make (qualified with but the gay bartender is a nice guy), which propelled me away from him and into a conversation with a young artist.

Now dear readers, allow me to tell you what he pulled out of his pants: a pillbox. I don't know why he thought I would want to know about his health. No, actually that is a lie. I do know. Mr. Yamamoto began to tell me about some strange illness he had and opened the lid on the box to show me at least 20 tiny pills of various shapes and colours. Then he patted me on the arm and assured me that he was fine, in good health and not to worry. I did not need to know that he can still get it up, but umm kay. Things also started to go downhill when he told me to walk behind him up the stairs so that I could catch him if he fell. Is this guy looking for a girlfriend or a geriatric nurse, I do not know, but he must have seen both in me. I'm trying not to be flattered.

I passed him on the way out the door and he reminded me to call him to schedule our date. I said I would for sure and accidentally on purpose misplaced his card. What can I say? It's all in a day's work for a green-eyed geisha.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Do it again!!

This put me in mind of the Last Word a few weeks ago that had me thanking my lucky stars it hasn't happened to me...yet. Frustrating experiences like that in Japan often leave me wordless (hard to believe I know) and I always come up with the best comeback several minutes too late. Maybe this is best to preserve what small ounce of harmony I have left.

I don't have the whatever to analyze this month's poster, so quickly before I am out the door for work: things I am loving and hating this week - you be the judge:

Flipping through travel magazines researching a long weekend jaunt to Shanghai (Japanese travel mags have the best pictures)

Tickets to the Dreamgirls musical in Shibuya next weekend

Beer gardens have started to open for the summer

Possible trip to Osaka in August to chill with the yakuza gangsta-style (or should I say, steez?)

Sugar daddy propositioning over the weekend (more on that later)

The secretary who keeps coming over and speaking to mine in a volume 11 whisper for 30-minute stretches about what I can only guess are her konkatsu activities - last week's little nugget of charm included some guy she first pronounced ugly and then ratcheted it up to "medium looks." When my secretary said that medium wasn't so bad, this charmer had the gall to say she was only interested in ikemen. I think she needs to have a good look in the mirror while playing back a recording of her voice.

The Head Secretary - the queen bee of our office hive if you will - has moved in behind me, causing the two secretaries in my quad to officially freak the fuck out. The HS rules over all things secretary-related and I can only imagine what decision went on behind closed doors that led to her being seated behind me when I personally feel she was perfectly fine on another floor. With everyone on their toes now, I can probably look forward to a return to painful and unnatural silence, where the rustle of a plastic bag could get you shot.

Funny how I have so much (some may argue too much) to say about certain topics...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dating myself

Last night I took myself out on a solo date. Living in this neon jungle I always look forward to nights out with friends but I also kind of revel in my own loneliness some nights. This is not a throat-clenching loneliness that comes from a long day at the Kaisha, nor the startling feeling of desperation upon discovering there are no close lady friends to talk to. This loneliness is a little exciting - discovering that I am on my own time, with no agenda, I walk down the street both anonymously and conspicuously. And no one knows where I am. The sad alone times I can do without, but this is an exhilarating feeling to know that I can move through the city completely alone and decide to rejoin civilization when I feel ready again. I guess camping does this for some people.

One of my favourite solo date nights is to visit the used English bookstore in Takadanobaba to pick up a few books before heading across the street to Malabar, home of the lushest nan bread in Tokyo that when dipped in curry rivals chocolate for me. I sit there thumbing through my new-used books and dipping bread and when I'm done I'll wander the neighbourhood before having tea time at
St. Marc Cafe, where it is absolutely impossible not to order one of their Choco Cro ("choko kuro"), or chocolate croissant. The chocolate starts to slip out the end of the heavy pastry as you work on it and is really something to behold. You can't run away from the choko kuro, I have tried. I would be hard pressed to choose between a nan & curry and a choko kuro, so I don't - it's date night.