About that nihongo stuff, ne…

There have been various things happening over the last few days for me.  I am still set up to take Intermediate Drawing this next semester.  I’m basically dying to learn how to use color in my drawings, and to start to move into what I actually want to draw, which is imaginative material.

I’m not thinking that the future for me actually lies in Illustration, as things stand now, but I might be wrong about that.  I’ve had training as to how to communicate in writing, so Illustration, although it’s probably where I started out (I can’t fully remember anymore, I was 14 or something), it may not be where I end up.

I’ve also begun to read Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon in English, so I actually know what’s happening this time around (instead of trying to translate piecemeal).  It’s different than the anime.  Though!  The anime is going to be coming out on Hulu — all 5 seasons, sub and dub — and is on CrunchyRoll.

As I was reading Sailor Moon, I realized that a major part of the attraction I had to the manga was the fact that because it was a shojo series, gender-bending was very much present.  The gender-bendy stuff probably hearkens back to an older manga — I think the title was The Rose of Versailles.

But anyhow, I was glad to be able to link my initial acceptance of Sailor Moon as an anime to the fact that I was probably a gender-bendy (or gender-breaky) kid as well.  That, in turn, led to the entry immediately preceding this one, on this blog.

I’m not sure I’m all-in with the Japanese stuff, at this point.  It’s a great idea to learn how to read Japanese — but recently I’ve been getting reflections of what it was like to grow up as a kid who was half-Japanese-American, and not accepted by most of young Asian-American society.  I didn’t look stereotypically “Asian” enough, is the thought (only people who are looking for it and actually know what Asian people can look like, can really see that I’m part Asian).  I’ve also been remembering my Japanese-American grandmother, who…did not treat my mother well, and we presume that this was because of racism.

I suppose there’s something to be said about a difference between pre- and post-WWII (that is, pre- and post-Internment) Japanese-American consciousness.  This, in addition to present-day nihonjin (Japanese-from-Japan) vs. nikkeijin (Japanese of foreign birth; in this I’m focusing on the U.S.) consciousness.

Anyhow…the prospect has been suggested to me recently to take a nihongo class.  This is not without irritations for me, though.

I’ve noticed the tendency of people of other races and cultures to “want to be Japanese,” (some people will actually say so) and even when I was initially in Japanese classes, I found the presence of people who were in the program (for all the wrong reasons) to be a somewhat-strange thorn in my side.  It’s the major reason I didn’t stick with Japanese when I moved on to my later University — even when racism works in your favor, it’s still racism.  You’re still being seen as a fetish object, not as a person.

Though in my case, this racism, even though it has apparent surface-level benefits (like my being expected to be “the smart kid” growing up), doesn’t work in my favor, and wouldn’t, unless I were to abandon the other half of my heritage (as I did for most of the first 20 years of my life — I only grew up with my Japanese-American extended family, not the other side, so I found it “natural”).  And that sets me up for unrest, because I really don’t look Japanese, I am not defined by being Japanese, and so having an exclusively Japanese-American identity, when nihonjin are known for not dealing well with people of other cultures…?  When nihonjin are known for making fun of people whose racialization differs from their own?

My grandmother tried to get me to have pride in being Japanese-American.  She didn’t try to get me to have pride in the other half of my heritage, which I’m only cloaking now because I can’t remember if I mentioned it before or not, and I’m not a mix that would normally be thought of.

But this is all politics.  There is also a spiritual dimension to this…but it’s not cohesive with the above, and nor am I sure I should be sharing it in public.  Suffice it to say that I am no longer at the point of thinking that my physical heritage gives an entire or accurate definition to the cultural community I feel most comfortable with…which only appears, actually, if we cast the Asian/Pacific Islander net wider and include people from other locations in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, who now live in the U.S.  When I do that, I feel vastly more comfortable.

As I told some co-workers a while ago:  I have reached a point where I know that my own culture is not the best culture on the planet just because I’m related to it.  I’m not certain if there’s a term for the place I’ve reached.  I do appreciate Japanese culture; I don’t appreciate Japanese insensitivity to other (nonwhite and/or non-European) cultures.  In my case, visiting Japan is even a scary thought now because of being nikkeijin, female, and probably qualifying as “exotic”, even though I’d likely not be respected very much because of my race, sex, and gender combination.

Right now, the risk is too high; and that puts a damper on wanting to learn nihongo because I don’t want to deal with more of this stuff than I already have to deal with.


(Maybe I could work at a community center…)

It’s been a short while since I’ve written here, eh?

…Right now I’m trying to figure out what to make public.  To reach the essence of what I’ve been thinking about, I’m thinking about using skills earned in a Business degree towards helping run a nonprofit.  Last semester, for me, was still a Business semester.  I think I took Microeconomics and Intro to Marketing.

Microeconomics was something which let me know that my plan of going into business as a crafter (I make beaded jewelry) wouldn’t be the best economic decision, as I live in a nation with a high per-hour labor standard and high cost- and standard-of-living, and my jewelry is labor-intensive.  Consequently, others outside my nation could duplicate what I do with a vastly lower labor cost, and price me out of the market.

Marketing caused me to think about what demographic I wanted to serve and how I would serve them.  It was there that I realized that what I wanted to do was serve the LGBTQIA (or “QUILTBAG” as we’re coming to call it) communities.  But I wouldn’t best serve these communities by selling them jewelry.

Selling jewelry to people would in effect be utilizing the training I’ve obtained by being raised to become a woman and enabling others to wear…nice things.  (Kind of like what happened in a certain Japanese film I can’t remember the name of, where the girls embroidered nice jackets for the female gang members to wear — take a traditional skill and use it for nontraditional ends).

A lot of what I do — or at least the last project I set aside, now that I think of it — appears really feminine.  I think it’s just my aesthetic — it takes some work to make something that isn’t intricate, though this last one is more “lacy.”  I’d thought multiple times that I would like to make jewelry for some people I know who are just now beginning to express femininity.  But the problem with targeting this market is that transgender and genderqueer people have a higher-than-average unemployment rate, and higher-than-average underemployment rate.  When the last recession hit, where I was, it was very noticeable.

Because of what I can only think to call socioeconomic discrimination in hiring and housing, etc. (BIG “etc.”!), my target market may not have the extra income to be able to buy my jewelry.  Even if they did, there are better uses for it than buying pretty-but-nonfunctional things.

However.  If I do want to serve a target market — here I’m thinking of queer women (regardless of assigned gender), genderqueer people (regardless of assigned gender), and transgender people (regardless of assigned gender) — there are better ways to do it.  Last night, I thought of one of them:  I could work for a nonprofit which serves the QUILTBAG communities.

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen, at least in the transgender and genderqueer communities, is isolation…barring the more gigantic and much more urgent problems of unemployment, lack of sufficient income, pervasive violence, lack of stable housing, and transmisogyny, specifically in the cases of many trans* women (this also affects genderqueer people [i.e. nonbinary; identifying as neither or both a woman and/or a man, or something else entirely {e.g. 3rd and 4th gender, Two-Spirit, etc.}] people and trans* men — though I haven’t studied any statistics on those demographics yet).

Alongside this are problems with a higher incidence of mental illness, especially when the case is that of a person of color; the phenomenon of “intersectionality (of oppressions)” is likely a large contributor in the latter case.  This is likely because of the violence of our society (societies?) as it targets trans* women, which is magnified when one is a trans* woman who is not white.  (It’s not easy to be nonwhite, alone.  Add gender variance on top of it.)  But essentially, the more strikes one has against oneself as regards minority statuses, the more stress one tends to be under.  The more stress, the more overt (as versus latent) mental illness — stress can and often does trigger symptoms, and is an important factor in both depression and psychosis (the latter meaning, “breaking from reality,” not, “wanting to kill people”).

The last thing I’ll mention here is a higher incidence of HIV infection, likely stemming from drug use (which I’ve also heard referred to as “self-medication”), and resorting to sex work as a survival measure, at least in the cases of some of the elders I’ve known (though now that I think of it, I met a young one like this, too — I don’t know his HIV status [he was on the female-to-male spectrum]).  On top of this, the story from most trans* women whom I’ve seen transition reads the same way:  that transition from male to female was necessary to prevent further and potential harm to oneself and others.

So…if you step back from seeing “trans*” and start to see “human,” you can see that there is a big problem here.  It just basically should not be the case that someone has to go through all of this just because they stopped pretending to be someone they weren’t — someone they could not stand to live as any longer.

The issue I have here is that, should I take this path, there really isn’t any going back from it.  On some level it requires *me* to be okay with others’ curiosities — because most others don’t know about transgender people, let alone what “genderqueer” means, or what it could be like to live as someone who doesn’t see themselves as a man or a woman.  The thing about that latter question, though, is that it’s different for everyone.

I do recognize that if I do take this path, I will eventually be known.  I don’t think that’s of necessity a bad thing.  But I have to be okay with having my face seen and photographed.  I have to be okay with representing people to others, because that’s the only way we’re going to get funding.  If no one knows what’s going on, no one can help.

A lot of what I do in my job as it stands now, is answer routine questions and direct people to other sources of information when I don’t know the answer offhand.  I’m told that, should I become empowered to do what I think I might want to do, this would fall under “information and referral.”  If I’m referring others to community resources (some of whom I’ve worked with, myself), I don’t think I’d really need a Master’s to do so.  Having been involved in the communities over a long period of time — long enough to get a sense of the actual differing oppressions each group has to contend with (gender identity, body dysphoria, bodily violation, and/or homophobia, and/or biphobia, and/or isolation) — is likely more valuable.

The only problem here, then, is with getting paid.  🙂  I think that if I worked at a QUILTBAG community center, I’d likely have an easier time dealing with people…at least when they’re there for a good reason.  A lot of my trepidation around dealing with the public as it stands now is that I’m consistently seen to be someone I’m not.  It used to get under my skin a lot more than it does, now.

At this point, I just realize that to most people, “female”=”woman” and “male”=”man”.  And…there’s not much more to it.  At least, not until one starts breaking the rules which contain “woman” and “man.”  😉  Then…


Addicted to writing

For some reason, I think I write too much and read too little.

In reality, I think the Internet has changed the way I, at least, interface with information.  It’s more difficult for me now to sit down and read; though I’m nearly always stimulated every time I do so, paper books and tankoubon don’t call out with multimedia and vivid colors and sound and movement.  They don’t necessarily have as much room for feedback as does something like social media; nor are they as engaging as, say, YouTube.

In any case, I find myself with spare time (a seeming rarity, but one which will be hopefully more active soon.  Even though I’m scheduled to go back to school in the Fall, I’m only planning on 6 units; that will happen at the same time as I’m trying to put together a writing portfolio and working).  Instead of writing something which I could use, say, for a portfolio piece, I’m more drawn to write someone an email or catch up on social media or visit a forum or write on one of my blogs.  But I suppose I actually have been presented with the challenge of being more social during the summer, and communicating with anyone I know at all is a huge step towards that.

The problem is that I have this spare time and I end up either resting (as today) because I’ve burned myself out (I think yesterday I was up for a marathon 19 hours — after about midnight my brain just doesn’t work all that well and I end up bopping around doing nothing for hours) or doing non-productive things like checking everywhere I know to catch up on what people are talking about.  Often, though, I’ll come to my computer, find others have been quiet, and then think of writing something — the topic and the people to which it will be addressed, coming second.

For some reason — I don’t know exactly why — writing is one of these things that has been with me for a very long time.  It’s nearly always been the method I’ve used for getting out what’s going on in my head; materializing it in some way so it can be recorded and looked at again later.  Focusing it in some way so that at least I may know what it is that I’m thinking (even though this isn’t always perfectly expressed in writing).

I also have a very difficult time making my own schedule and sticking to it.  I may start doing this, though; it’s not really all that great to have a day off of work and spend nearly all of it either eating or in the bed.

And right about here, I started to get into the main reason why I thought I spent today thusly.  I probably shouldn’t post it, however.  It has to do with a personal conflict between myself and someone else — who doesn’t actually know me, but is feeling a bit too close, right now.  I should probably go and take care of that.