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I've been so busy doing this, that, and the
other thing lately that I haven't kept you
up to date on what's going on in my life.
The big news that I failed to mention a while
back (because it's kind of embarrassing)
is that I got fired from my wedding pastor
job. Can you guess why? That's right. One
It turn's out that a reader in the US recognized
one of my fellow wedding pastors in a picture
on this site. So he called up the pastor
here in Tokyo and said something like, "Hey
dude! You won't believe this! I just saw
your picture on this cool photo site. You
should check it out." So of course the
pastor checks it out and can't believe some
of the things that I wrote about my wedding
job here on my site and then, being a conscientious
employee, he called up the company and told
them to go and have a look.
Well, to make a long story short, they put
me on indefinite suspension until they can
make up their minds whether or not they can
forgive me and give me another chance. It
doesn't look very good. I've been apologizing
and writing letters and things like that
because I really loved the job. My company
was great, probably the best one in the business.
I feel like an idiot.
I guess I always knew that they'd find this
site eventually, I just hoped that it would
be later than sooner. And like I told my
boss, I knew that I shouldn't have been writing
anything that made the industry look bad,
or publishing photos of employees without
permission, but I was weak and just couldn't
resist the temptation of telling such an
We'll just have to wait and see how the pastor
job works out.
Moving on, last Sunday's pictures were of
my and Karen's taiko drumming class. I've
been meaning to write about it for a while
but kept putting it off. Anyway, we signed
up a couple of months ago. We go every Friday
night and it's been great fun so far. Our
classes are held in the British School (expat
kids) in Shibuya, and that's why there are
so many children in the photos. Those pictures
are actually of the kid's class before ours,
however, a lot of the older kids stay on
to take the adult course.
I'll tell you more about taiko later.
an interesting subject.
Finally, here's what's going on with our
visas. As I mentioned before, Karen's work
visa is going to expire in early January
and we might not be able to get it renewed.
Mine is good for another two and a half years.
However, she can't get a dependant's visa
on me because I'm not working full-time right
now. She can't get a last minute company
job and subsequent sponsorship because it's
too obvious that she'd be doing it just for
the visa (and would quit immediately after
she got it) so chances are she couldn't get
a job. She also doesn't want to give up the
lucrative freelance editing work that she
does which is now our main source of income.
So, we convinced our main editing client
to sign a contract hiring Karen as a contracted
worker. In this way we hope to prove to the
immigration office that we have a minimum
monthly income and then self sponsor. Unfortunately,
this request almost cost us our client because
they thought that we were an established
and legitimate company and were surprised
to hear that not only might we get deported
but that we're not even a registered company.
Anyway, they gave us the contract (just because
they're nice), but now we found out that
immigration wants to see the company's financial
records as part of the visa application process,
and the company flat out refuses to give
that information out.
So, we're kind of feeling like the cleaning
staff at a mid West Walmart: Here comes the
INS and not a green card in sight.
We're just going to have to hope that we
get a flexible immigration guy. If not, we
might just have to move on. Chances are that
it will work out though, so don't worry too
I'll keep you posted.
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I wrote the Japanese Proficiency Test, level
3, today. It went well, I think I passed.
I went out drinking with my friend Makis
afterwards to celebrate. He also wrote the
test. I just got back home now, it's 2:15
a.m. It was really good to cut loose and
act like I was 22 years old again -- it's
been a really long time. I owe Karen one
for staying home all day and night with Jack.
She's pretty good to me.
We went to a pub in Meguro and it just happened
to be open mic night. I ended up singing
Irish folk songs the whole evening.
I had so much fun that I missed the
train home and had to take a cab from
I want to write level 2 next year just so
I can go out and celebrate. Next time I'll
keep an eye on my watch though.
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Saturday's post about racism, as always,
generated a lot of comments. It's an
that most people seem to have an opinion
It's always amazing to me how readers take
these little snippets from my life and force
them through a mental extruder that is shaped
like their own view of the world. They see
things through 'self-coloured' glasses. Of
course I do the same kind of thing when reading
other people's writing, we all do, it's unavoidable,
it's part of the human condition. Thus, the
small person interprets my story as a situation
where a big man threatens a little man; the
untraveled person sees it as an example of
my cultural naivete; the Asian man sees it
as analogous to his experience of racism
in the UK, and so on.
This plurality of perspective on what is
essentially one person's life is one of the
things that make weblogs interesting, one
of the things that distinguishes them from
other more traditional forms of writing.
The comments that become intertwined with
each post become as much a part of the work
as the text that the author wrote. This is
what gives weblogs that organic feeling,
that sense that things are wild and random,
and that anything could happen.
Unfortunately, reader comments are also what
stops a lot of quality writing from appearing
online because amateur authors aren't willing
to stick their necks out, to talk about how
they really feel. A lot of people won't talk
about touchy subjects, or things that they've
really done, because they couldn't stand
the inevitable barrage of criticism that
would be thrown their way. This is unfortunate,
but I guess it has to be this way -- I suppose
it's a kind of, 'if you can't stand the heat...'
I've never taken any creative writing courses,
but everyone is familiar with those two old
adages that you see in the movies or read
about in novels whenever the process of writing
is discussed: write what you know, and be
The advice 'write what you know' is straightforward,
but I never understood the honesty thing
until I had a weblog. I used to think that
it meant an author should be truthful in
terms of telling his readers his 'honest
opinion', whether or not he thinks they will
agree with him. Now, I think that it means
an author should be honest about who he is
and what he's done, whether or not he thinks
people will like him for it.
Sure, I could write about all the old ladies
that I've helped across the street or all
the girls that have broken my heart. But
who wants to read about that kind of crap?
Better you should know about all the times
I've been an asshole, all the times that
I should have helped somebody but I didn't.
Better you should know about the times I
told an old bigot to fuck off when a more
civilized person would have smiled and walked
away. I think that's what people want to
read, because that's life, and because it
tells them that they aren't alone in their
weaknesses, their faults, and their foibles.
Everyone's got a life, but not everyone's
got a weblog.
In other news, congratulations to my my sister-in-law
Julie and her husband Rene on the birth of
their first child, a baby girl named
She was born six weeks early but came
pink and fat that I think she looks
two months old.
Everyone's really happy for Rene and
and of course I'm overjoyed that I'm going
get to be an uncle. I was a bit worried
for a while because I'm an only child.
Karen and I can't wait to get ahold
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Two weeks ago while sightseeing with Gary
and Jean in Ameyokocho, a seedy market area
running along the tracks near Ueno station,
I received my first overt racial slur. This
was the first time in the five and a half
years that I've been in Japan that something
like this has happened. It was also, not
surprisingly, the first time that I've told
somebody off in the street.
Jean and Gary were up ahead a little way
looking in a shop. I was standing off to
the side of the lane, camera in hand, in
the midst of the fish market section. I was
just kind of checking things out, looking
like a total tourist.
Then, out of nowhere, this grubby old fishmonger
with a voice that sounded like piss hitting
gravel, all raspy and coarse from years of
smoking cigarettes and shouting out the names
of fish, said in Japanese to his buddies,
thinking I couldn't understand, "Hey
look, a stupid fucking foreigner."
He was only five feet away from me. I turned
and looked at him. He was short, maybe 60
years old, and was wearing a headband and
an apron. In front of him on a narrow table
was a huge section of tuna carcass and in
his hand was a butcher's knife.
I said back to him in Japanese, "What?!?Stupid
fucking foreigner?!?!What are you saying?"
He was shocked that I could speak Japanese,
and couldn't look me in the face. He kind
of just looked over my shoulder up the road
and gestured with his hands and said, "Yeah,
yeah, lots of Koreans and Chinese around
here. They're all over the place you know."
To which I replied, in English because I
don't know any Japanese swear words, "Asshole.
Go fuck yourself." He probably understood
the gist of this.
Then I just turned and walked away, smug
in the knowledge that the last thing he'd
see would be my fat gaijin (foreigner) ass.