Because the world needs more overwrought candour.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Things we do for money

While Kiyono is really only on the outskirts of the sex economy (her customers buy her vibrators and want to talk about sex all the time), her friends are more involved; Yukina, who sweet-voiced and quiet, prim and demure, accepts men's penises into her mouth for money two nights a week, Yukina who is the second most popular girl at the men's sauna, you'd never guess. One of her customers, lonely at 40, big breast fixated, terrified of vaginas, pays her two hundred dollars an hour to fondle her and talk to her and when he dies (rich, no dependents) he will give her his apartment, he promises. Kouki, self-tattooer, met Rumi on a suicide website years ago as they floated round the edges, looking in at the committed, wondering; Kouki with the kanji for death on his forehead, artist, maker without direction, helping Rumi, a girl he does not love, to become pregnant because she wants a child to stave off loneliness, to give her someone that she made to love, Kouki used to be paid to go to a love hotel with men and accept their cocks up his ass, but they all accept this without blinking, they continue their lives funded by being receptacles for sperm, and they are normal, usual, only as fucked up as you or I.

The more Kiyono tells me about her work, the more respect I have for her. It's like being an actress, a girlfriend-to-many; one of her customers is convinced she is in love with him and is planning their marriage; yet he pays her to tell him she loves him, a beautiful self-deception. I wonder if he manages to divorce the acts of talking and paying the bill in his mind. Kiyono showed me a little of her stage persona last night, gently mocking herself and her customers; wide-eyed, hanging on my every word, muttering sweet nothings. Archly, she asked me if I believe her when she talks of love and I laughed and said I get your time for free, of course I believe you. But here living independently as a woman is difficult if not impossible, and hostess work, while draining and depressing, is a way out and around the set ways of being.
Tokyo and rice farming

Apart from difficult decisions on the love front, I've been kinda mobile recently, which has been fun. My brother returned to Australia yesterday, so to commemorate this, we took off to Tokyo last week to see the biggest smoke of all. At first, I wasn't so impressed - yep, like Osaka but bigger, yep, that's about the same, but after two days the sheer size of the city began to sink in. It goes on forever. You can see some pictures of our trip below.

The overnight bus deposited us at Tokyo station at 5.30 am. Tokyo was dead. A few cars zipped by; the station was eerily empty, vast and echoing. Then it began - the first sprinklings of commuters from the dormitory towns on Tokyo's outskirts, rubbing their eyes and waiting for caffeine to take effect. Then more, then more and more and more and more until the entire madhouse of a city was galvanised and alive, frantically pumping people around the byzantine train network, spilling them out into rushed lunch bars and offices and a mad, mad panic; when night falls and the neon flashes on, the pace slows a trifle but still the streets are lined with people in their thousands.

I supplemented my standard guidebook (thanks Camille!) with the Underground Guide (google it if you want, my blog-linky thing won't work), which tells you how to find the crazier, more bizarre side of Tokyo which is what everyone really comes to see, don't they? So alongside gawking at mammoth tuna snap-frozen and whale meat that mysteriously found its way to sale in Tsukuji fish market, Row and I frequented fetish video shops (oh, my, god), cheap airgun shooting galleries, a parasite museum, a rockabilly shopping mall, a Don Quixote supermarket (a truly astonishing place - where else can you buy soft drinks, butt-plugs and a shovel in the same store?), a beetle shop, a shop devoted to selling things people leave on trains, a doll-store designed to fulfil the manga-goddess needs of pimply geeks and so on. Ah, Tokyo. The normal guidebook took us to the Museum of Emerging Science, which rocked my little science-fetishizing world - there was a robot which can catch a tennis ball you throw to it, far faster than a human could, Shinjuku (I didn't know so many people could inhabit the same area at once), Shibuya and Harajuku.

The urban tribes on display in Shibuya and Harajuku - the youth hubs - were more varied than Osaka; supplementing the usual yanquiis - motorbikeboys and overly tanned girls with bleachblond hair - were smaller tribes of facepainted lycra wearers, wannabe yakuza, real yakuza, cosplay kids at Harajuku on Sundays, preening for the tourists, movable works of art in a popularity contest; terrifyingly bad crossdressers, eye-patch fetish gothgirls, the punkest looking punks I've ever seen, sans all anti-authoritarianism; older hippies, dropouts surviving in the anonymity of the big city. There were more foreigners than I'd seen anywhere in Japan, mixing, bustling, toting Japanese girlfriends and occasionally boyfriends, the odd white-man-gone native, bursting out with loud Japanese chatter; we spent a night in Shimo Kitazawa, the bohemian centre, drinking with friends-of-friends one of whom turned out to be in a slightly well known Australian band I saw once as a teenager; bohemia Tokyo style is students and record shops and more hair salons than I thought possibly sustainable.

We were lucky enough to be in Tokyo for the 6.0 earthquake, biggest since 1992. It was an amazing feeling - asking for directions in Shibuya, the earth suddenly bucked under our feet, shaking itself like a deer trying to remove a fly. Buildings swayed back and forth, the glass and metal shimmering as they moved quietly through the air. It lasted ten seconds, maybe less, and people burst out onto streets, apprehensive. Row and I were buzzing - again please, said Row, again again again, I want to ride the earth again. What a crazy feeling, to have something as solid and reliable as the earth suddenly become animated, walk, talk, breathe before returning to solid state. Then we felt bad for enjoying it - what if people died? (They didn't). But amazing that you really can earthquake-proof a city (kinda - Kobe showed that you can only do so much).

As a penalty for enjoying the terrors of the earth, the train network shut down and we had to run five kilometres to catch our bus to Mount Fuji to climb it at night. The climb itself was sold to me as unspectacular, but something that you Have To Do Once. It was a suitably bizarre experience - ten thousand odd people climbing Mount Fuji at night, most on one particular trail; there were half-hour waits in queues, there were five year olds and seventy year olds climbing, there was a gleaming snake of people curving back down the mountain as far as the eye could see. We half-ran at first, young, full of energy, and we took off our tshirts, too hot, to the whispers and open stares of everyone else - crazy foreigners, they said - and then the temperature dropped abruptly and Row found an alternate route with no-one on it which was much steeper, and altitude sickness struck me a fierce blow and turned me into an emphysema sufferer, staggering forward five metres before panting for breath, and I nearly gave up and I cursed everyone who said it was an easy climb - not a chance, it was a fair fucking climb with not much oxygen; at first I laughed at the too-well-prepared climbers in full hiking gear and real torches (we had two penlights) and oxygen bottles but then I coveted my neighbours goods once the going got tough. But dawn from the summit was spectacular, coming faintly through the clouds. Coming down, many people were staggering, faint, lightheaded.

In the madness of Harajuku on Sundays, in the teeming street where everybody goes to shop and be seen shopping, where I bought two token shirts out of vanity (oh, this? I picked it up at a little place in Harajuku. Yes, Harajuku), there was a woman perhaps eighty years old living out of a bag, drinking leftover softdrinks from a bin, and everyone averted their eyes from someone else's problem and it made me furious. Strange, the selective kindnesses of people.

One night we stayed in the self-proclaimed cheapest hostel in Tokyo (Yadoya) which turned out to be a firetrap of a second floor in a rundown old house; one night we slept on a friend's brother's floor and one night we climbed Mount Fuji and stole a little sleep on the bus back to Tokyo, so the trip was damn cheap. As a fitting farewell, we forgot how to get to our luggage locker in Shibuya station at rush hour with limited time before our bus back to quiet (!) Osaka left, and spent a frenetic half hour charging up down and around, while thousands upon thousands of people treated us like obstacles and flowed around us.

Interestingly, you could live your life in Tokyo without needing Japanese at all. Most people could speak reasonable English; I had a particularly surreal moment where I resorted to Japanese to ask for directions only to discover I had asked some Malaysians, and that English was Galactic Standard as far as they were concerned.


After that frenetic dose of hypermodernity, I spent the next three days working on a rice paddy near Kyoto as a Wwoofer. The farmers, Keichi-san and Setsu-san, escaped after 30 years of the madness of Tokyo; he was a salaryman until he broke out of the ratrace to raise rice; she, an artist who makes surprising light fittings out of vines she collects from nearby mountains. After three days there, I had a lot more respect for rice farmers and for herbicides. Organic farming is fine, but if the herbicides don't kill the weeds, then hands have to. Keichi-san taught me how to distinguish between weeds and rice, which look virtually identical, and I spent hours and hours bent over a rice paddy, looking for tiny tufts of hair on the stalks which indicates that it is precious rice, not common weed. Each morning I woke sore and stiff, unable to grasp my chopsticks at breakfast. But it was a great experience, not least for the food. I am going to miss Japanese food, I really am.

Right then. Forgive me as I resort to a very old literary device - Doug1 and Doug2 - in order to try to capture, pin down and hopefully destroy a very frustrating conversation circulating more or less continously around my head at present. So, D1:

- Fuck
- Yep, I know
- Fuck!
- Yes, I know. The L word was mentioned.
- Fuck!! I thought she was a good-time girl. It was working fine for me; I'd leave, we'd shed a few tears and the impermeable membrane between my dreamlife here in Japan and my real life in Australia would remain intact.
- She wants me to stay
- I can't stay. It's impossible. I've had my fill of the gaijin life. I want my real one back. It's been fun, Japan, but it's time to go. I will come back, of course. This place is addictive. But Kiyono and I weren't serious. We couldn't have been.
- That's not true. She's probably the most serious girlfriend you've had, in some ways.
- But she's Japanese.
- So?
- So she lives in Japan. So every white guy in every mixed couple I've seen looks secretly uncomfortable. So this was most definitely not part of the plan of coming here. So this is impossible.
- Do you love her?
- Fuck. Yes. No. Maybe? What's this love shit anyway? Romantic love is a fleeting moment, a biological conspiracy which is designed to produce children and then vanishes leaving the residue of companionship.
- But it's a lovely feeling though. Who are you ranting at?
- Last month she turned us into friends, though. What kind of love is that?
- There was a reasonable although bizarre reason offered, remember. She tried to return to Brooding Ex-Boyfriend because he has a three year visa. But he is rather selfish.
- She can't love me that much. She can live without me.
- She says she can't.
- But is that really true? Doesn't she just need me to help her weather this depression?
- Remember what happened last time you questioned that? She proved to me that the turbulence in her mind was no joke, that love is not a nothing word, that she needed me and wanted me, that if I leave it will be fine she will just live in a hospital and dope herself up with whatever chemical tweakers her doctor gives her
- But desperation is such a turnoff. Relationships don't survive based on sympathy. That was such a guilt trip.
- An effective and graphic one. You can't believe in someone's misery until you can see the entrails of grief and pain. And I still find her sexy and damn fun to be around despite the depression and the guilt, so it can't be that much of a turn off.
- Look, I want to do the right thing by her.
- What, exactly, is the right thing? Live here to keep her alive?
- Do you love her?
- Yes. No. Sometimes. Maybe. Fuck. How the fuck did I end up responsible for her life?
- Maybe she could come to Australia? Maybe that's a solution?
- And do what?
- And be my Exotic Girlfriend from Abroad and Meet my Friends and have fun for a while longer. Take a road trip up north, hire a car, live off my credit card and her bank balance.
- And then?
- Shut up.
- And how would you introduce her? As a hostess-bar worker? What will they think of my shy/crazy girl with tattoos and scars and strongly accented English?
- Are you ashamed of that?
- No. But maybe you shouldn't have blogged about her.
- So you were lying. Kiyono's not her real name, remember? All the rest is made up too.
- Yeah, right.
- Fuck.
- She's an artist as well, and a good one. But she's mostly into fun. She's a fun girl, unconventional, entertaining. Just last night we were hanging upside down, dangling and giggling from the handholds of a late night train while normal polite Japanese people tried not to look.
- That was fun. Remember when she threw me across a bar to prove she could wrestle?
- Yep, she's fucking tough. Remember the stories she told you?
- Yes. Then why does she need me?
- Because she's not her normal self.
- So what do I do?
- I have no idea.
- Why aren't you more stressed about it?
- Because life is more fun when it's complicated.
- But she's the one who will suffer if you fuck this up
- Fuck

Now! Let's make this interactive! I honestly have no idea what the best/right/good thing to do here. So, friends, advice is very, very welcome. There is a comments box below. Do it! Save me from responsibility! Tell me what the fuck I should do.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Cosplay girl, Harajuku

Shibuya, night

The rising sun, in the land thereof

The line of people snaking up Mount Fuji at dawn

Host club building, Kabukicho, Shinjuku

Bizarrely, giant beetles are enormously popular as pets. This one was fifty bucks but some cost thousands of dollars.

A Tokyo fetish shop is an astounding place. What people can get off on is eternally surprising. This is squashing-porn, in which a woman crushes small creatures - fish, lobsters, snails - with her high heels. Next to it was trampling porn (man meets woman, woman walks all over man in high heels, man loves it), cockroach eating porn (woman meets/eats cockroaches, etc) and tickling porn (woman is strapped to chair and tickled mercilessly for ninety minutes). Fucking strange.

This is perhaps the most fucked thing I've seen here - a 13 year old, posing as adult model. The content seems harmless, but the association - found in the midst of nasty porn videos - is not a good one.

Whale meat for sale, post-science experiments of course.

Tuna, Tsukuji fish market, Tokyo

Friday, July 15, 2005


Ah, life is perverse and messy. Until last month, I had a life going here which I thought was quite nice, furnished with small cute children to teach, a weekend girlfriend, a place to stay, friends, a bit of money in my pocket and then it all fell apart, like a pack of cards. First Kiyono, unhappy in herself, then my kindergarten job, perhaps because I found it hard to hide my dislike of my boss, and from there my conversation school job fell through because they couldn't afford my transport anymore, from there I was empty and naked here again; a few more words stored in my mind, ease of movement, strong legs from walking, 10 kilos lighter from poverty and healthier food, but naked and useless, just the same way I came here. So it felt natural to curtail dreams of staying here, mastering Japanese, waking free and easy in a city not my own, because it was turning out neat and circular, nakedness to nakedness, creation and destruction all in a little photo frame titled "6 months in Japan" which I can revisit at whim through the gold gauze of memory.

But life is perverse and messy and Kiyono has burst back into mine suddenly, this time with need, and suddenly we've switched roles, from me as the supplicant asking to be nursed at her breast and taken with her to bright clubs and dark bars, to her as the one in need. Depression, of course, a huge black one, just like Norico, the girl I first dated. Since February, the fun sucked out of life, her life replaced by acting and rote movements, from work to bar to hangover and back again. This is the sadness in her eyes I could always find glimmering when conversation and movement ceased, when she returned to her own cage to test out the bars once more. This is the sadness I tried in vain to gain permission to, but thwarted by my transience, our difficulties in communicating properly. Talking about pain without being able to use nuances feels artificial, like crying for strangers in a support group. Now, just as the call of home is strong enough to hear, she comes to me and asks help, asks to be loved, asks to be told she's beautiful and worthy of life and she comes close to tears for me. She hasn't eaten in six days, vomits after every attempt, but she drinks and smokes, self-medicating, won't tell her mother or other friends - friends with history far further back than we two - because she must endure, she tells me perhaps precisely because I am leaving and will take her secret with her, she tells me perhaps because I did love her, I do love her, otherwise it wouldn't have hurt me.

For me, being needed is like a light held out, being needed here is validation of life here, it is a point. My children at the kindergarten needed me and I cultivated that because I needed them too, I needed their simple joy at being given life, I needed snotty hugs and gifts of lego blocks. Now, Kiyono needs me and I feel strange, torn more than ever between the comfort and ready, solid conversations of home and the here and now, an ugly foreign city with humanity scattered through it, Kiyono with a simple need to be held and told truths which I cannot stay to confirm.


The Japanese philosophy of "gambatte" is perhaps simultaneously the strongest and weakest aspect of their culture. Gambatte - endure - means that you should not complain because everyone is suffering; it is impassivity in the face of problems, it is tenacity, strength, politeness, obligation, social contract, but it is loneliness and suicide too.


Hina's mother cried when I left the kindergarten. The dream of a foreign kindergarten worker filling the gap where the father used to be was just a dream after all.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

From left, we have a lovely American, a former hostess, and an aging but famous musician

Stolen image from train.

Ah, shochu. Like water, but better. Maker of fine, smooth drunkenesses and astounding hangovers.

Panty vending machine, Kyoto.

Namba, 10pm Sunday night. The salaryman who didn't make it.
Pieces and bits

Gillian, wanderer and English teacher at large, only calls home after a catastrophe, after deaths - so after Doctor Death from Bundaberg hit the news, she hit the phones hard, tutting and mmm'ing to friends in Australia, dissecting the case - those Indian doctors, she says, and shakes her head darkly. After the London bombings, euphoria in her eyes - an Event, tragedy, terror! - and she calls her friends in London, remembering when she lived ten metres from the place where a bus turned itself inside out, made modern sculpture out of flesh and metal and bone and grievance, became the new battlefront of the Iraq war removed from abstraction and sandy wastes.


Why I love Japan, chapter 10: for the nighttime, for the neon, for the pulse in the air you can feel. Last night, Row and I roped in a few of our friends from the kindergarten and found our way to an Okinawan bar, tenth floor overlooking the dark futurism of Shinsaibashi, shimmering neon against backdrop of black buildings with red lights flashing at each corner, warning planes, speaking of machine intelligence. The bar reeked of paint; opening night, a place we found by chance. A man surrounded by women, he with open face and greying hair. His entourage whisper to us that he is perhaps the most famous musician in Osaka, and he lets them herald his coming before coming over and talking to us. A song comes on, his voice at 28 years old, when he first hit the charts, and he sings along with it quietly, his 50-year-old voice acting as gravelly counterpoint to his youth and fame. His wife leaves with her friends and five minutes later, his new lover comes in, toting unrealistic breasts, a face lit up by proximity to fame, her fingernails long and wonderfully wrought, shining as she lays them gently over his arm. They met two nights ago. As for us, we drank and laughed, taking pleasure in being young in this country; we are met with smiles and warmth in a shared place. In Osakan bars, no one is a stranger for long. Row and G were having Relationship Woes and their eyes glazed under the weight of a lethal spirit from Okinawa and they spilled themselves out for Jeremy and I and everything was exactly as it should have been and I didn't want to leave Japan. Yesterday, I was wondering how, exactly, I came to be in drab Osaka, rather than in Tokyo, the World Class City and for a while I felt as if I needed to be defensive about this. But while Tokyo is gloss and shine, Osaka is gritty concrete and friendliness, remarkable food and welcoming bars. Afterwards, walking through Dotombori Arcade, I spotted some Eastern European or Russian hostesses, tall, sultry, walking, not together but associated with men with wallets, cashing in on their youth and beauty before it runs out, afterwards, I saw sleek suit-clad young men spruiking hostess bars, afterwards I saw a gaggle of workers in hardhats and their trademark flared pants, drinking one-cup shochu next to their building site, afterwards we laughed and joked until it was time for home.


Shops here display the dreams of their owners on the outsides, promising happiness for the customer, talking of the roots from which the shop came, but this dreaming is in English and not in Japanese. Girls wear t-shirts with blatant come-ons - "Maybe I'll want to, just ask me" - but they are all in English, which means they are safe. I suppose English is the language of dreaming for the rest of the world which lives in other languages, English is the upwardly mobile language, an access point.


Jobless, I spent much of last week taking my parents on Tourist Voyages of Discovery, most of which were bad. After leaving yet another historically important temple swamped by tourists equally as ignorant as us, I started wondering why, exactly, people travel at all as tourists. Anytime something is designated as an Important Attraction and the crowds and giftshops start rolling in, the original attraction is lost and all that is left is a place to mill in, to feel the angst and dissatisfaction of people who have paid money to get here and be here and must therefore pretend that they are interested in what they are seeing. If you have seen one waterfall, you have seen all waterfalls; one temple and you have seen them all. Everything is better in the official photos and words, and you come to see for yourself and take your own photos and make your own words, none of which come near the gloss of the brochure. Mass tourism kills what people come to see and resurrects it as an ideal of what we want to see - difference. So Kyoto's historical districts have roads newly paved in old stones, have new shops in old buildings, to give the illusion of difference and worth. Maybe we travel to take photos home, ways to prove to others and outselves that home isn't so bad after all, to settle that disquiet that other people have got a better thing going - the same thrill offered by reality television. The things we genuinely enjoyed were where our ideas of daily life differed with Japanese practice - staying in a Japanese inn and trying to locate our futons; drinking cold tea from vending machines, eating glorious sashimi and gluggy, savoury udon in izakayas, catching buses and trains, skindiving amidst soft corals and different fish, but the designated Main Activities, the things that tourists are Obliged To Do, most of these should be of interest to specialists and not we plebs, specialists who know the significance of this religious art, historians, religious, culturephiles. Mass tourism is the popularisation of things which most of us are not equipped/inclined towards as the rationale to justify leaving home. This is evil and should be stopped. Here endeth the sermon.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Another ending

This morning I woke up in Kiyono's apartment, after a surprising (or perhaps unsurprising) turn of events involving alcohol and one of those tentative, new-ground-rules nights which turned into a story about her ex/current-boyfriend turning nasty and hence disqualifying himself from the competition entirely. I was back in the lead, through no efforts or talents of my own and I revelled in it. It felt natural again, and while we didn't kiss, and probably won't, it was a lovely feeling of renewed access - to the city, the country, through her.

It's the rainy season at present, a brief interlude between two sweltering months, and the rain today was delicious on my skin. I went to see my fool of a boss - timed between two engagements to minimise the time I had to spend with him, a routine contract signing visit, and he made me wait to emphasise his importance and give me ample time to study the progress of his paunch (yep, larger). Then he said sorry, you've come too late and the kindergarten is full this month. Stunned, I said nothing. Full? It's been understaffed since day one. What the fuck? Why fill it with inexperienced workers when I've been here four months? Was this perhaps punishment, I asked, and he blustered and fiddled with words, only the tiny spark in his piggy little eyes brave enough to tell me the truth, that he was indeed punishing me for speaking up, the vindictive fuck, for daring to criticise Him last time. Thank god, I didn't beg, although I felt tears (anger? sadness?) nearing - I'd already had my final day with my gorgeous kids and hadn't even known it was special. He wouldn't relent, holding to the logic of systems to ward off the emotion in my eyes, instead holding out token work elsewhere, and the possibility of returning to the kindie next month, by which time I will be in Hokkaido, or maybe Tokyo. So this is it then, I said, barely holding it together (so fucking weak, the anger came later) and walked out into the rain stunned, as if I'd been sacked, which in some sense I had. God, it's as if, one by one, I am being relieved of my connections here, the things which made living here worthwhile and different and purposeful - first Kiyono and now my borrowed children.


Crazy to think that I'd already hugged Soshin for the last time after chasing him round the room, whisking him up in my arms to administer a tickle, a fellow dreamer at two, his face always wreathed in secret smiles, secret games beneath chairs, the Pooh-Bear towel he slept with dangling from his mouth; already taken Aran for her last hurdy-gurdy whirl in the air, her delighted face fixed on mine and not the dizzying ground below; watched Shuma make little playdoh creations and say mitte, mitte (look, look!) for the last time, watched Koichi count to ten on his own, led the pack in singing Dorothy the Dinosaur, cleaned up after a routinely disastrous lunchtime (Misaki! Please don't pull Hina's hair! Shuto! Why is your lunch on the ground? Shuma! What's that up your nose?), put Ren to sleep by stroking the secret spot behind his ear. I'd already made my last lesson (how will we make a mess today, kids?), encouraged sharing for the last time, already had my last surge of pride at Koki's wobbly letter A's, laughed at Shizuka strutting around behind me, impersonating pompous ol' me, saying go to your futon please. I'll never again get to discover Soshin blocking the toilet with a toilet paper roll, never find secret toy caches days later; never sing with my kids again.

And Hina has called me Papa for the last time, an error I never really tried too hard to correct. Where her Papa is, no-one knows.

I feel robbed, stripped - no time to prepare for this ignominious finish, no gradual weaning, nothing, just bang, you are not needed anymore when the truth is that the new teachers will terrify the children for a month until they earn their trust like I did.

Sometimes I really want to hurt people who hurt me and a fantastical plan quickly formed on the train, still numb - I would write a little diatribe, outlining exactly why he is a Bad Man - his propensity to treat humans as bits of paper to be allocated, his bombastic approach, irrational temper, superiority complex, and I would send this to him. Then (and this is where it gets mean and dirty and low) I would send a copy to all of the email addresses for the company I could find, so that one Embittered Former Employee could work to undermine this giant fool of a man, and my little battle with this man would be somehow worthwhile, and he would fall and lose face and his staff would snicker behind his back or at least feel some solidarity, know that other people feel the same way.

But then it passed, my own vindictiveness and desire for revenge and now I am left with another small sadness which means my time here is nearly ended, I think, and that now is time for movement and change and upheaval, time to destroy the little niche which I made for myself, a little perch for four, five months. Not that it is mine to destroy, really. My former boss and full time fuckwit did a good job all on his own.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll sneak back into my kindie and say goodbye to the kids, who I will miss. Even if I come back, the kids will be older, changed, a different phase of childhood and I will be forgotten, a dim tugging, a memory that once this person had hugging rights and diaper changing rights, playing rights and teaching rights, back then.


I think perhaps the most satisfying feeling in the entire world is when a small child, humming after toilet time, slides his hands up your arm to help me change his diaper. It's a simple, entirely natural movement - the little one trusting the big one, unthinking, but every time one of my charges did it, I had massive, fatherhood-inducing surges of emotions I can't describe. A strangely heady admixture of pride and protectiveness, perhaps.

God, I'll miss them.