A few of the many things I’ve been blessed with

D&D with Hotaru and the guys
My beautiful, beautiful wife ❤
My faithful cat, Chokoretto (gotta love nap time)
My adorable, wonderful daughter ❤ (at my dad’s radio show)
My amazingly creative dad, doing what he loves most
Best. Moms. Ever.
Tons of support

And more…

So, let the arthritis be only a small pebble on the way.

I live to laugh and love a lot, that’s all I need.

Hotaru the Minotaur

Last Sundays’s D&D session got moved to Monday because it was a holiday but Michiru’s boss made her work anyway, so she and Hotaru couldn’t go out as usual. Knowing Hotaru loves roleplaying, I told the guys she’d be with me that day and suggested to give her a pregen and let her tag along rather than cancel. After all, two of them had already roleplayed with her the week before last when I narrated that story about dinosaurs she and Michiru wanted and had been impressed by her ability to stay focused and contribute to the situation. So naturally they all agreed she could tag along and play the tank our party had been desperately needing. I thought she’d be bummed to play a minotaur but it turns out she loved playing something outside her comfort-zone and loved it even if she had to play a character that wasn’t cute or even a girl.

This time Hotaru intervened a lot more and in crucial moments too. She was the one who discovered the entrance to the secret lab we’d been sent to investigate after all of us had seasoned players just forgot to explore the entire room we had been resting in. Then my hippie centaur ruined it by losing the evidence we collected after being being too legal but that’s a whole different story I don’t wish to dwell in. The point is Hotaru had fun and acted and spoke of her own free will, healing and dealing damage and helping unlock doors barred by heavy objects. It was nice playing with her and I’m looking forward to doing it again. I suspect there’s a lot someone her age can learn from roleplaying, from good group dynamics and cooperation to negotiation and situation analysis.

Michiru’s mom is being less toxic with her lately, but there’s still something going on with her. Last Saturday she spent all night criticizing everything Michiru did in an old homemade video Miki had played for us durign her birthday party. I, on the other hand, got to see Michiru play as a young kid and fell in love with her all over again. I noticed she maintains some of the tics and habits she had at seven years old, which was sweet and the way she went about protesting when people misbehaved was uber cute. I don’t know what came through my mind before, fearing how our children would turn out. If we have more children, I definitely want them to look just like her. Bossy righteous temper and all!

Talking about my wife, she was sad that her mom told her Miki’s friend who got married the weekend before us (thus getting a sunny wedding day rather than a flood) is already three months pregnant. I honestly don’t know what’s going on inside that woman’s head but telling your daughter who’s sad about her failed attempts at tryging to conceive via IUI that someone else got it to happen for them quickly, easily and the old natural way IS JUST TOO CRUEL. And I don’t like to trashtalk Michiru’s mom because it’s her mother and all, but I can’t overlook someone being disrespectful and outright sadistic towards the woman I love, the love of my life, my wife, my life partner… I’m trying to wait and see, hoping the tendency to be less mean she has had of late keeps on gaining momentum. That’d be wonderful, because when she isn’t criticizing or trying to micromanage other adults’ lives she can be super fun to be around and she’s a great cook too.

Also, she took Hotaru to the theater last Sunday. They had a blast. The play was a classic and Hotaru loved it. I’m glad she’s decided to be grandma and form her own one on one relationship with Hotaru because although I’m always a little worried at how having someone like her around will affect her in the long run, she’l definitely be a part of our next child’s life and it wouldn’t be fair if Hotaru didn’t get to call her grandma while the other kid did. This way at least the two of them will be able to talk about her like equals and forge their own opinions on her behavior as they grow up.
The sofa Michiru and I ordered two weeks ago is being delivered later today. I’m so excited we’ll finally have the kind of sofa I’ve been in love with for over fifteen years. Michiru and I have been talking a lot about redecorating lately and there’s several projects we’ve embarked in but it’s mainly the art studio upstairs, our bedroom and the living-room. The cupboards at the barbecue room will be painted white too and I’d like to do something about our ghastly kitchen but that’d take a lot more money. The new heater we bought for the living room fireplace (and its installation) were expensive enough as is so all the improvements we’ve been discussing involve little budget a tad of paing and a lot of furniture rearanging.
My rheumatoid arthritis is improving greatly with Dr. Susan Blum’s diet and the probiotics. I’m also using homeopathy and cannabidiol to keep inflammation in check without invasive traditional meds like Methotrexate and such which I refuse to take as they’re very toxic for the body.

I’m still mad at Setsuna despite us allegedly having made out. I just can’t overlook the fact that she’s doing to someone else what my parents did to me which resulted in severe trauma, phobias and chronic depression for years. I’d be enabling and although I don’t feel inclined to cut her out of my life, I do intend to let it cool until we barely speak anymore. I was waiting to see if I’d eventually stop feeling mad at her, as it often happens when we keep our distance for a couple of months but even the idea of talking to her is cringe-inducing. I don’t want toxic people in my life, people who’d rather consume than create, whose most meaningful experiences happen as interatcions inside a computer videogame and who have the discipline and self-control of a mite. It’s sad, though, because I wanted to get over it (or have her fix her priorities) but it is what it is.

Hotaru got a certificate and a daruma and a pencil for participating in that oratory contest and was happy about it. Other chlidren got cute kokeshi dolls but she loved the daruma most because it’d grant her a wish. I love the fact she can put hardship and pain behind her and move on, stronger and empowered. Losing was horribly crushing for her but I blame the teachers. They never informed her the date of the contest and she thought there were still two more weeks to finish learning and practicing the second half of the text, or that the time she read aloud in front of the entire school had been it. So she kept practicing for weeks after the gig was over and she had been poorly judged for reading the first half amazingly and the rest ok. Had she known the dates she’d have organized her time better and studied the whole text harder rather than just half of it as her sensei said… so I’m also blaming her for that.

This year’s sensei is no good and I don’t meant to be disrespectful to people with a hearing impairment, but this teacher has speaks so poorly the children don’t understand what she says half the time. And I’m not exaggerating, I don’t understand her either and I’ve talked to her a few times this year already. Not all people with a hearing impairment speaks like she does. Michiru’s right ear is 100% deaf but she still has her left ear intact and speaks just fine. Hotaru’s teacher? I can’t tell whether she’s speaking Spanish, Japanese or English most of the time. She shouldn’t be teaching a foreign language. Math, perhaps or Geography. The school should assign her to higher grades where they have finer tuned ears and such. Perhaps they thought third graders would have less to lose by not understanding what’s being explained to them.

At any rate, Hotaru will study harder next year. I didn’t mention it before because seeing her cry and sob for 45 minutes straight was heartbreaking for me. Especially when I offered to treat her to ice-cream and she declined… four times! But we talked A LOT about that and she understood the situation and learned the valuable lesson that sometimes talent and hard work aren’t enough to grant us our dreams and that the right course of action isn’t to resent who got our desired spot but to root for them and try again next year. I’m glad she’s not the jealous type and understood it well.

Ok, scratch the part about me feeling better, my neck is SO STIFF today. It doesn’t hurt or anything (unless I try to push my limits and move it more than it can) which is good. I still wish I had a full motion range like I did two weeks ago.
Hotaru, Michiru and I can’t wait for summer. We’ve been fantasizing about our next holidays a lot and even I can’t wait to go back to the sea and the mountains.

Arts and crafts

Her first electric project!

Hotaru’s second report card came back and we couldn’t be prouder.
She got straight As in Japanese, Bs in English (which makes no sense since she’s bilingual but whatever) and a mix of both in Spanish. All the other subjects like music and P.E. are all A+ as well, as expected. She’s very proud of herself and happy her hard work paid off. I love that attitude of hers. Other children don’t care much about their grades, especially if the’re good.

She’s super excited about a new school project where they’ll teach her to weave her own rugs. They were supposed to start today but some boys didn’t have all the materials and they postponed it ’till tomorrow. Her crafts are getting more and more complex. Today she made a birthday card for her friend Lulu and it was beautiful. It took some help from Michiru and I because the plastic we had available wasn’t sturdy enough and it needed to be reinforced before it behaved like needed, but she did most of it herself and the result is amazing. You pull out a blank drawing of Litten from a purple frame and it comes out colored but goes back to being white once you put it back in the frame. Interesting little project. I hope her friend likes it for she put a lot of effort into it. I also hope I remember to bring the actual present along with me when I pick her up. It’s a night lamp that Hotaru made herself from scratch (yes, electrical connections and all though she didn’t interact with actual electricity working only in the circuitry and waiting for me to plug it in to test the result).

Hotaru works hard in her music every day.

Oh, by the way, Hotaru’s card and present for Kouchou Sensei did turn up the following day. It appears her Sensei took it to the headmaster’s office after class so it wouldn’t get stained by the food the children were eating and she forgot to notify Hotaru, for which she sent Michiru an apology note. All’s well that ends well.

The crabs in my life ❤

July the 20th was my dad’s birthday (and Friend’s day). We had a nice family dinner and things between him and I were so good I suggested we had dinner at his place the day Michiru stopped by to trim Ula’s claws. We had a blast! My dad might not have been the best of parents but he’s a decent granddad and Hotaru knows how to handle him anyway 😉 But the point is I’m happy we’re getting along this well lately. I hope for many more good times to come.

Our Kokoa is too beautiful for this world…

Michiru’s mom stopped by for lunch last Saturday and brought her hat collection over for it was taking up too much space in Miki’s room or something. Hotaru inherited a couple of said hats and looks as cute as fluff in them.

It was quite a busy day, actually. Aunt Grace came over for tea and my mom for supper. Fun times =D

Sorry for the eclectic post. I’m in a lot of physical pain tonight because of the arthritis and I’ve also come down with the flu, so thinking straight is quite hard but I won’t let that ruin my mood.

On morals and hypocrisy

First of all, let me say that Hotaru is a lot tougher than I gave her credit for and certainly a lot more than I was at her age. Then again, I didn’t have the kind of emotional support from my family she gets from Michiru and I but I digress. I was applying my Testosterone gel tonight and got thinking about the values we’re teaching Hotaru. As a grown up, I think they’re the right ones and I feel absolutely bursting with pride whenever she reflects the patience, perseverance, discipline and responsibility we’ve been trying to instill her for years… and still, I can’t help but feel a bit like a hypocrite because, although I do hold those values high and can honestly say I do live by them now, they’re not what I valued at her age.

When I was in third grade, I absolutely despised neat, responsible little know-it-alls who always did their homework, never answered an insult with another insult and ran to the teacher for help whenever trouble arose rather than physically fighting the person who had injuriated or otherwise hurt them, which is exactly what Hotaru is growing into. I mean, that is what I do today, I live by the rules and try to be efficient, responsible and neat but, back then? I would have wanted to hit her senseles for being so perfect and oblivious to the inequities of this world where fair people gets trampled and thieves almost always win. I do make a point of talking to her about just how lucky she is for not being bullied, for having parents who love her and stand by her and understand her emotional needs and give her tools to work through the unfairness of this world and the frustration it evokes but sometimes I’m not sure talking is enough to convey to her just how hard it was for me growing up and exactly how extremely fortunate she is for not crying herself to sleep every night like some of her friends do… and like I did. That being said, let’s move on to what actually happened:

Mugen Gakuen’s Elementary Headmaster was hospitalized last week due to a scheduled surgery. Hotaru has a good relationship with the man whom we all admire for his professionalism and heartwarming dedication so she decided to make him a get well soon card that she spend hours working on. She took it to school today along with a gift of green tea for other teachers to give it to him as an omimai if/when they visited him at hospital. The idea was for her to leave the bag with both card and present at the Headmaster’s office after the rest of her classmates signed their names during breakfast. They did but then, when she came back from lunch break the bag, which she had left inside her closed backpack, was gone.

The teacher had her classmates search their own backpacks and they all looked around the school but no one could find it. Hotaru was sad, shocked and very hurt by having something stolen from inside her bag though this is hardly news. One of her manga books (which she had lent to her friend Lulu) got stolen from her best friend’s bag two weeks ago right before Lulu could return it to her during recess. A few months back various drawings and other things were stolen from other girls and last year someone stole Matsu’s LOL stickers and broke Diana’s back pack. I’m sad to inform we’re inclined to think of ourselves as “lucky” because all of this was the work of a single boy rather than common behaviour as it is the case in most public schools and some private ones as well. Still, I had hoped things like this didn’t happen in Mugen Gakuen, it being a Japanese school and all. Guess it’s not their fault it’s full of us gaijins and our nasty habits.

I wasn’t feeling well, so Michiru went to pick up Hotaru from her Taiko training alone. She informed me of what happened through text message and I was seeing red. Still, not being there helped me keep my cool so I crawled out of bed and bought Hotaru more art supplies so she could make Kouchou Sensei a new card (she had used her last bits of color card stock for it). I also stopped by the hardware store and picked up a (rather cute) padlock for her backpack and then made a last stop at the tea store but the place was closed. I called Michiru to inform her of this setback and she confessed to have bought Hotaru more card stock as well. We laughed in delight at the isshin denshin moment and she handed the phone over to Hotaru so I could give her my own version of a pep talk on the way home.

Hotaru was a lot more cheerful by the time I got back and we got to work on the new card at once while Michiru calmed Ami down over the phone (she’s seriously ill and was having a nervous breakdown of some sort) oversaw the dinner I had left simmering to make sure it didn’t burn. The card turned out even better looking than the first one and her kanji were neater too. Also, I found an extra bag of imported matcha in the pantry for Kouchou Sensei, so all was well. Michiru wrote the teacher a note asking her to please allow Hotaru to deliver the bag with the card and present to the Headmaster’s office right after everyone is done signing it to avoid further mishaps but what she really wanted to do was slap everyone in the school silly… and so did I.

She had previously texted the other parents about the incident but, as usual, everyone claimed kids are clumsy and lose things on an everyday basis and then lie to cover up for it. Well, not our Hotaru, that’s for sure. She’s all about justice and virtue. Well, not everyone was like that, really. Hikari, Felipe’s mother, seemed as outraged as we felt and made it clear she wasn’t happy with things continually getting stolen from everyone’s backpacks. Her son gets bullied a lot by this punk who steals and breaks things so she knows how we feel. She also sent Michiru a private message offering support and good wishes. ❤ Megumi’s mom, Elsa, with whom we’re sort of close, had a totally different approach and we’re very disappointed in her though not the least surprised by the lack of backbone she showed by informing the entire group that her daughter usually loses things too and claims someone stole them. I find it very hard to respect cowards who never take a side and try to keep peace when there’s an injustice demanding people took a stand and did something about it. Reminds me of the worst parts of my childhood and rubs me wrong in a very personal place.

But the thing is we fixed it for Hotaru. She made a new card, got a new present and a brand new padlock to prevent this from happening again. The poor thing had such a bad day. Her Taiko practice was so intense her hands were full of blisters and she could hardly open them. Luckily for her, I was sadly asigned female at birth and knew just the thing to cure blisters thanks to the ones wearing high heels had given me through the years. I had her dip her hands in warm salty water for half an hour, after which they were fully functional again 😀

Also, the bully boy made a cruel remark to her after she discovered the bag with the present was missing and she stood up to him and told him “that isn’t the least funny, you know?” in that tone angry mothers and wives use when you’re in serious trouble, so he’ll know not to mess with her again. The nerve of that little bastard, though. ¬¬

That’s her new haircut and brand new Pikachu pajamas I made for her.

Setsuna called me today, but I was in pain and rather depressed so I wasn’t good company and we didn’t talk long. It seems her pregnancy is going well so far. She’s on her 24th week so the diabetes specialist said she’s ready to start using insulin until delivery. I’ll try to call her back tomorrow and apologize for being so aloof. I really was in a crappy place today, though I don’t know whether I’ll have the time. I’ve promised my mom I’d configure her brand new all-in-one for her since she doesn’t understand modern operative systems (which is kind of ironic her being a programmer and all). And then we’ve an appointment at a government agency to update some of our personal information and after that Hotaru and I are supposed to meet Michiru at my dad’s for tea/dinner or some other form of eating, though the main reason we’re going is Michiru promised to trim my dad’s cat’s claws since neither him nor his wife know how… and Ula is fairly aggressive to be honest. She’s a carey they found at their back yard a few years back but acts like an indoor kitty most of the time these days.

That’s the Espeon pajamas I’ve made for her (Umbreon and Eevee are too small already). She was helping me work by writing the receipts for the girls since one day she’ll inherit everything the light touches, Simba. LOL (live action movie sucks)

Tomorrow is Michiru’s sister’s birthday. I hope I don’t forget to send Miki a text of some sort. Perhaps some Hufflepuff themed virtual card or something. The party is the saturday after next so we still have some time to get her a proper present. I like her new boyfriend. He’s much nicer than the last and very funny to talk to. Seems like a good guy. Hope she doesn’t break his heart.

Winter Break

Winter break has been nice so far. Hotaru built a night lamp from scratch for Lulu’s birthday which is on August the 13th. By the way, her insufferable mother finally allowed her to visit us when my good friend Agus organized a Gravity Falls themed tabletop RPG session for Hotaru and five of her closest friends.

Aunt Grace came over for lunch and an afternoon of goofy board games (she’s the hostess of a radio show these days!). And my dad took Hotaru out for lunch and then treated her to an hour at the arcade center. Michiru’s sister organized two sleepovers where they watched too many movies and ate candy. Not precisely my cup of tea but since it’s not an everyday occurrence…

The fertility treatment didn’t work out but we’ll go in for another round in a couple of months. Every girl and woman in the family was bummed, but I believe that if it’s meant to be it’ll eventually happen.

We installed a new heater in the living room so the place is much cozier now. It has fake ceramic logs and makes the mantlepiece look complete at last. I’ve fulfilled my lifelong dream of sitting in front of a “fire” with my legs stretched and toasty warm as I read under a thick blanket with a tea cup in one hand and a cat curled on my lap.

Hotaru and I played KoiKoi and Magic The Gathering often, and I’ve been teaching her a few new songs for the bass guitar. She’s such a fast learner! Her piano skills are amazing already and although her lyrical singing could use some improvement, it’s getting better fast. She’s planning on singing Nightwish’s Nemo at the school’s internal talent show this year.

Oh, and she’s been reading like crazy, rereading the Harry Potter saga and Roal Dahl’s Mathilda. She read HP5 to me for two hours tonight after we were done studying Japanese Kanji. Such a grown up intonation and clear voice. It was a real treat. ❤

I’ve been a bit blue as of late. The worsening of my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms haunts me through the day and I can’t remember the last time I felt inspired enough to work on my novel. I’m blaming SAD for it. At least partially, and hope spring brings new hope for me, though I’ve been fighting depression woth all my strenght, for I refuse to let it overcome or paralyze me without a fight. I feel I’ve been winning some terrain in the past two or so days. The strict diet Dr. Susan Blum recommends in her book Healing Arthritis helps me tons to reduce inflammation (and pain) and stay functional, but there’s still a long way to go before remission. The fact that pain and swelling have been keeping me from playing the bass guitat and hitting the gym (plus the limitation of eating the same 15 ingredients every day) weights heavily on ny heart. My friend Francisco has been very supportive and a great listener and so has Nacho.

Michiru and I have been daydreaming about a date night since Winter Break began and we’re looking forward to next weekend. We’re also picking new furniture for our home office and art attelier and working on the blueprints for the new floor we’ll be adding to the house next year.

In the meanwhile, I’ve started daydreaming about summer and next year’s vacation since we had so muv fun last year. Hotaru and Michiru are already discussing plans and activities. We’re likely to distribute our time at the sea and the mountains more evenly this year, hoping to go for more horseback rides on the former and hiking trails on the latter. I’m only moderately disappointed that I won’t achieve my goal of swimming topless this time either, as the RA has prevented me from working out at home as well but the HRT has shrunk my chest enough for me to feel comfortable in a T-shirt anyway. I know I will sorely miss swimming, but waiting and eventyally exercising beats going through top surgery. I’d rather go the natural way anyway.

Michiru is super excited about the building project that will allow her to finally be a stay at home mom and artist while I’m quietly optimistic. We’re still waiting for the government’s approval, so it might take a while, but my mom is confident they will approve it eventually. At any rate, the project is in good hands.

To the theater

Michiru’s mom decided to play grandma last Saturday and took Hotaru to a theater play’s avant premiere before the Kareeraisu Paati held at Mugen Gakuen. Apparently, some of her famous friends were in it. I learned afterwards that the themes weren’t precisely children-friendly as the play involved actors wearing red shoes to symbolize the blood chains we keep our animals in or something of the sort. I wanted to protest but Hotaru said she had a nice time and didn’t seem particularly shaken or disinclined to eat meat afterward so I kept quiet.

Later on, we all went for coffee and then Michiru’s mom told us about her friend who’s supposed to come up with the right questions for the upcoming national census. The conversation somehow evolved into a gender right debate when she insisted transgender people should agree to answer the tricky questions designed to spot us, even if we identify as “MEN” or “WOMEN” rather than “TRANS” because it’d be beneficial for us in the long run if the government knew, even if the questions were poised in a disrespectful, dysphoria induced way. I had to keep rolling willpower to giving her a piece of my mind, especially when she started explaining to me how I felt on the matter was wrong and what I should be feeling instead… as if I didn’t know my own mind. I must have missed a few rolls, though, for at one point I said: “You can’t tell me what I feel or don’t feel because you’re not me and I’m perfectly aware of what my thoughts and feelings are while you can’t possibly be.” Michiru kicked me under the table. LOL. I TRY to be good, I swear, but she just pushes my buttons. I hate Virgoes with a passion. Can’t help it.

Anyway… it’s good that she’s been trying to bond with Hotaru since Michiru and I won’t have anyone treat her any different from the child we might be expecting and the only way for that to happen is if they spend time bonding one on one. Speaking of which… last test came negative at 9dpo but it was still too early to test anyway. We’re waiting until tomorrow morning to test again and then, maybe on Sunday, which is when we were supposed to actually test. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and, by the way, I’ve apologized at Setsuna (though I didn’t mean it) and are still pissed at her. But it’s no biggie. She’s also mad at me and hasn’t replied to my message… not that it matters. I’m not willing to be friends with someone who is willing to put their vices and whims before their children’s health.

Speaking of Setsuna, the situation is made even more awkward by the fact that Hotaru spent last Sunday at her place modeling and crafting while Michiru and I had a little walk around Chinatown so they could get some alone-time. I hate these awkward situations.

The big 9

When did she get this old!? You can even catch a glimpse of a sassy teenager in her voice and facial expression every now and then!

Hotaru turned 9 this month. She’s growing up so well ❤ I’m proud of the person she’s become.

We had a small family reunion that Monday night and then dinner with Michiru’s family on Wednesday and with her grandparents on Saturday. All three parties went well and Hotaru was excited and happy to share that special day with everyone she loves.

Well, almost everyone. Rami, her best friend of the past six years (along with Lulu) was in Europe with his family for two weeks and couldn’t attend any of her parties, so Michiru and I talked to his mother asking if she’d allow him to borrow her phone and send her a message. It was a big if, for the woman despises us, but she likes Hotaru and agreed. They even bought her a birthday card. She was thrilled to get it when he resumed school last week.

Her official party, though, the one with all her classmates, was a complete disaster (yet again!), though this year it was sort of Emma’s fault. Hotaru wanted a D&D themed birthday with several tables of RPGing games available for her and her friends. Emma (one of the other two children she celebrates it with, the other being Marco), said RPGing was boring and wanted something more exciting, thus suggesting a Laser Shooting themed party at a special venue. A very pricey one, I might say. I had no problem with that, since Hotaru agreed and we were only going to pay 1/3 of it anyway.

However, when I pay for something to be handled by professionals, I expect them to be exactly that. Halfway through the party, one of the organizers comes out of the Laser Shooting range calling for mothers to help him. I got up and he said “No, not fathers, mothers.” And that rubbed me all sorts of wrong. If there’s something wrong at my child’s birthday party I’ll BE THERE to see what’s going on.

Turns out 25 out of 27 children were crying. Yes. The boys too. Something to do with one of the teams cheating. Hotaru says her team was winning and then she was supposed to find a hidden pistol in the maze and when she did, this girl Malena came from out of nowhere and took it from her, hitting her in the process so she dropped the gun and, thus ensuring her team a victory by cheating. Both girls started yelling and then crying and, up to that point it was all right. But then the men in charge tried to calm them down and their friends jumped in to defend each side and then they yelled at all the children and everyone started crying. It was a disaster. The only people not crying were Feli and Mori (which is kinda funny considering they’re both big criers!).

Michiru calmed Hotaru down and I went to talk to the owner, explaining that I’m perfectly capable of making children cry unassisted and that if I hire them to handle the entertainment it’s because I expect someone with actual experience in handling children to make them laugh and know exactly how to defuse these bound to happen situations when they occur. I mean, it’s not like their price was cheap either. She mocked me and the kids played in the labyrinth for a little longer but there was more drama and the other two birthday boy and girl continued to cry in their parents’ laps so they ushered them to the food table.

After that, they were supposed to go back in for a different laser mission but instead of that the group was placed in front of a giant screen to play Just Dance, something I could have done in my own living room for free. Okay, the entertainer gave them a few orders to perform while dancing but then he forgot what they were and messed up the entire game yet again. I made such a fuss about it all that the owner ended up charging us less for the party which would have been fine had I given a rat’s butt about money. The fact that my daughter’s party was ruined can’t be changed and that’s what counts to me. By the time we sang happy birthday, Hotaru was the only birthday girl who wasn’t still weeping. This can happen in a 2year old birthday party but they were turning 8 and 9. Kids that age aren’t supposed to cry as everyone cheers for them.

Still, I’m happy we’re raising Hotaru right. I mean, Michiru told her “stop crying for a second and think: your class mate is a cheater, is this really something for you to cry about?” and that sobered her up at once as she realized it wasn’t worth her time and let it go. The other kids continued to cry for two hours. Clearly, their parents aren’t giving them the right tools to handle life. And they will find lots of frustrating people in life.

So, Hotaru got pre-selected to represent her class at the Oratory Contest next month. She’s thrilled about it and has been practicing nonstop since. She was also asked to read the story in front of half the school along with the other contestants, three from 3 年 A-gumi, two from 2 年 A gumi, one from 2 年 B gumi and herself, as the first graders are too young to participate.

At Hotaru’s request, I’ve been helping her practice before dinner but although she wanted guidance about the right intonation for each phrase, she got a bit frustrated when it didn’t magically happen on the first few tries and had a brief meltdown last monday. We had a talk about hard work and how long it usually takes to learn to do something right and how long it took Michiru and I get our own scripts right when we competed back in the day. That motivated her and she even laughed at my jokes while we practiced last Friday night. She’s already memorized the whole story so now it’s only a matter of practicing the pace and accents of proper reading.

This is not an internal event so there’ll be other schools at the competition, which means being selected to represent her class is kind of a big deal and the whole family is proud of her for getting this far already. Even Michiru’s mom was excited that she did so well despite her usual disapproval towards anything Japanese.

The school’s Baseball team hosted their yearly Karee Raisu Paati which includes a night of karaoke and the aforementioned food at the school’s dinning room. It was fun. Hotaru sang with her friends and Michiru and I got to talk to Luz and Lola’s mom for a while. The former is always fun to be around and interacting with the latter will hopefully make us better liked/understood by that particular family, if only because we never had the chance to talk to one for a long period of time before. There were other parents and it was nice enough. Hotaru’s BFF’s mom was there and said hi to everyone else from their class except for us and sat in the opposite end of the table, which was very rude of her but at least she brought her kid along, so the two of them had a nice time. Today, the former headmistress congratulated Hotaru on her singing.

Hotaru, Michiru and I celebrated Tanabata making decorations and writing our wishes in tanzaku that we hung from our bamboo tree. My mother, Elsa and other people asked us to hang their wishes as well, so we did. It was nice and fulfilling. I love family activities.

Also, Michiru and I went to the fertility clinic last week. We’re in the dreaded two week wait now. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and Setsuna and I had a huge fight today over the fact that she continues to smoke although she’s almost five months pregnant and already lost one of the embryos at 8 weeks. I’m greatly disappointed in her, as usual and also as usual, she’s mad at me for asking her to grow a pair and take the hard, righteous path. No one is the least surprised about it.

Oratory Contest

Hotaru absolutely loves Ballet. I was sick so I stayed home and slept all day, but my mom joined them. Oh, well, there’s always the Opera next week.

Hotaru’s dead set on being chosen to represent her class at this year’s Japanese Oratory Contest. She knows both Michiru and I used to rank well in those contests back in the day and has been studying like crazy to memorize the lines and the speech patterns for they only pick one per class and, although some of her school mates have OK Japanese reading skills, she wants to leave nothing to chance. I think the ganbaru philosophy is finally starting to sink in.

The defining test is tomorrow, so we’ve been working extra hard today, helping and encouraging her to practice until she got it pretty well for an eight year old whose mother language isn’t Japanese. Last year she read better than some of her school’s sixth graders, so I believe there’s a fair chance she’ll get her wish. Still, it’s not a matter of being inherently good at something and lazy about it but of giving the best you have to give and that’s what we want her to learn here.

The Mugen Gakuen’s karaoke is this Saturday. Hotaru’s class will be dancing to Tatta, a song by Yuzu. She went to the first rehearsal and missed the second one because of her Taiko practice… and she’s likely to miss the last one for that reason, too. The (transphobic) mothers of her two best and oldest friends know her schedule and organized the rehearsals on those specific days on purpose, so she couldn’t attend.

Whatever. None of us is worried. It’s only third grade and the main idea is for them to have fun doing it. Last year was like this as well and it turned out more than OK. She was one of the best dancers and all. I mean, it’s a two minute song and the dance steps are pretty much the same ones as last year but in a different order -because only one parent is willing to come up with a choreography for them. Besides, other parents have shared videos of the rehearsals so she got plenty of practice at home annd also enlisted her friends to practice together at school during recesses (that’s my brilliant, resourceful daughter! <3)

Now, Taiko? That’s a whole different story. Hotaru takes it very seriously. She’s absolutely thrilled at the perspective of eventually traveling to Japan with her dojo in a few years and understands they must be really good for that to happen. Sensei is doing a terrific job at keeping them motivated by putting small, attainable goals in front of them. Her group will be performing at this year’s Karaoke next weekend, for instance. And some of the senpai constantly come to Michiru and I after practice to congratulate us on Hotaru’s progress. So, she’s been working super hard during practices and not only that, she stopped forgetting to put on her coat and stuff because she doesn’t want to get sick and miss practice.

I love her having this level of commitment to very long-term goals at such a young age. It makes me very proud of her. Especially in an age where impatience is pandemic. Hotaru has come a long way from getting impatient and easily frustrated when failing at something she hasn’t done many times before.

Oh, and speaking about long-term goals. Hotaru had said last year that she wanted to get a better report card as the one from second grade wasn’t as good as first grade’s. Well, her last report card was 100% B’s. ❤ Let me clarify this: B is the highest score you can get in the first term at Mugen because teachers use it as a baseline, leaving some room for improvement.

On a different note, Michiru and I have been a little frustrated lately with how long it takes to make a baby as a non-CIS-gendered couple (or any couple with infertility issues, really). What was supposed to be an intimate and beautiful experience has turned into this huge and stressful pile of invasive medical treatments and bureaucratic nonsense. So, when this kid asks me where babies come from, here’s what I’m gonna tell hir:

Well, my child, when two people’s love is greater than life, they spend months filling endless sheets of papers with inconsequential information about themselves and getting poked by condescending doctors in uncomfortable places until the writ of protection you filed eons ago finally hits the right office, forcing the healthcare provider to stop being an unconstitutional bully and fully cover the treatment. If that doesn’t deter hir, I can always go with ask your mother. LOL

We need to get Michiru’s medical records emailed to her so she can forward them to the healthcare provider in hopes they’ll approve the budget. The cocky lady at the fertility clinic said it’d take less than a week and here we are, waiting still and fearing we might end up missing another cycle altogether. I’m tired, stressed and quite ready for this part to be over. I signed up for night feedings and diaper changing, not being talked down by secretaries and help-desk clerks.

Also, on the health department. A second doctor confirmed the Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnose. I’m not thrilled about that, BTW. She, too wanted to prescribe some pretty strong stuff that I refuse to take as anything but a last resort, which my mother disagrees with. We’ve been getting into a lot of arguments lately, which is another stress factor for me but I’m not giving up. I’ve scheduled an appointment with a gastroenterologyst to see if he can treat me for dysbiosis and hopefully get the RA into remission that way as some docs have managed in other less conservative countries. We’ll see. If not, I’ll die young but free. As a pagan and a writer, I refuse to take something bound to give me brain-fog, even if it didn’t have other lovely side effects such as nausea, brittle nails and hair loss.

My tenth month on Testosterone ends today. To be honest, I had quite forgotten about that, caught up with other more pressing health concerns (like coughing my lungs out for the past week), but Michiru brought it up as I opened the last gel packet in the box. It’s sweet of her to remember. I should have put two and two together after spending an hour queuing at the pharmacy today to get the new box, but I guess my mind was otherwise engaged worrying over the long-term effects of the holistic approach to RA I’m taking.

Thing is, transitioning has stopped being a thing. I’ve already “fixed the genetic misunderstanding” to the point I can look at myself in the mirror and be happy with who smiles back (at least until summer when I start wishing I could swim topless like a normal man). I realized that the other day, when Mulan’s song popped up in my playlist and I was like ‘whatever, think I’m gonna skip this boring one’ rather than ‘OMG this is totally me!’.

I mean, my life has fallen into a comfortable routine where I feel like me all the time. People have stopped misgendering me altogether (must be the beard) except when I’m on the phone, so there’s no need to constantly seek validation by looking at the physical evidence proving them wrong. Well, technically there is one more instance where I do get misgendered but I’m hesitant to theoritize about it as it’s a touchy subject.

Homeless people. For some unfathomable reason they misgender me 100% of the time but, then again, who can blame them? They have much worse concerns than getting people’s pronouns right and I don’t mind… though the one who called me princess might have gone a tad too far. LOL It was kinda funny, really. I mean, I have a beard so whatever. I don’t make a big deal about it anymore. Haven’t felt any dysphoria lately either, even though I don’t bind and haven’t had top surgery -again, let’s wait until summer comes around and I’m sure it’ll be a whole different story.

Speaking about top-surgery, the plan was to naturally masculinize my chest with tons of localized exercise and the right oils and creams, hoping T did its thing relocating my body fat as well. Life, however, had other plans and my RA hasn’t allowed me to do any weightlifting since February (or pumpkin carving or clay modeling for that matter). But I trust it will go into remission at some point and I’ll be able to work on my body again.

Also, Yule is coming down here and Hotaru is very excited about celebrating it this year.

Very Old Friends

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Last Sunday, Michiru, Hotaru and I went to a Medieval fair with Romi (Hotaru’s friend). It was a small one, hosted inside a narrow building in some cultural center, the sort I’d usually ignore as most of the fun stuff usually happens outdoors, but it was twelve blocks from home and we just couldn’t resist. No, seriously. I had this inexplicable URGE to be there and I always listen to my instincts. Nasty consequences follow when I don’t. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way years ago.

The fair was exactly what I had expected (which is not much) but the craft selling stalls had some pretty interesting things and I was happy at the idea of spending an entertaining afternoon with the girls in an all Pagan setting (more about that later), as I had been feeling a little disconnected up until a week or two ago and was looking  forward to the opportunity to be around my own to help me reconnect.

Me and the guys had arranged to meet for a D&D session that day (we were only creating new characters for an upcoming Ravnica campaign) but I cancelled on them because of this hunch and, rather than going to the fair for a couple of hours and then joining them, I cleared up the entire day for that seemingly insignificant event. And I say that because indoor medieval fairs can only entertain me for like an hour, two tops if there’s interesting crafts being sold or the food’s particularly good. (This time it was both).

Anyway, we were all watching a medieval dance recreation when I noticed a man standing in front of me across the stage who seemed oddly familiar. I couldn’t quite place him at first and, considering my prosopagnosia, it was a miracle that I had recognized him at all, but I did. There was something about his eyes that resonated in the oldest, deepest corner of my childhood and I yelled his name across the stage.

The man looked at me in confusion and I called his name again. I saw something flash in his eyes for a second, the kind of recognition people show when hearing their own name so I just knew it was him.

I’m a bit embarrassed by what happened next, but there was no easy way to explain myself yelling across a stage full of dancers other than being as concise as possible so, I said to him: “I used to go by [dead name] before my gender change.” And then his face transformed in slow motion in a way that reminded Michiru and I of the Zootopia sloth Flash when he laughs at the pregnant camel joke. Only my friend’s face registered mostly indescribable shock. He even leaned forward and rested his hands on his knees to support himself.

Funny thing is, I was the one who was very changed since the last time we met eight years ago (when Hotaru was still a baby) but my heart began to race in fear as a sudden shot of adrenaline coursed through my body, triggered by a fight or flight reflex my body decided to have for some unfathomable reason, as he and I were always in good terms. We didn’t fight or anything, just sort of fell out of touch for totally random reasons like I was a really hot woman and his girlfriend morbidly obese (and my ex insanely jealous), so we concluded it was wise not to see each other for a while… and then he moved out of his parents’ house and I moved to a bigger flat and we lost touch, as I don’t use any social media and had changed my name anyway, but I digress.

Pablo was my absolute best friend from kindergarten and all through elementary and high school. We’d sit on the roof of my mother’s house and talk all night about the girls that broke our heart rather than studying for our biology finals. LOL. The good old times… hehehe. He head me whine for about a year after my mother demanded I broke up with Michiru back in high school and he is the one who adopted the puppy she and I rescued from the street on our last date. (Turns out he still has her, though she’s old and blind).

He and I were the only kids in our kindergarten class who could read and we read books targeted for 12 year olds, on top of that so we got made fun of a lot. For the post part of our elementary school years he was my only friend at school and I was his. He taught me to play chess at age 6 and we’d swap detective novels (think Phillip Marlowe and Sherlock Holmes) and other books.

We were both heavily bullied back at school because of our unusual interests but then, Pablo said something the other day that shocked me to the core. He said “man, we had such great fun together! Elementary was a blast!” And I was like “Dude, people hid your pencils and I got almost raped more than once, what the fuck!?” and he said “Yeah, we got bullied pretty bad but you and I always had a great time.”

I introduced him to my family and told him my wife was that girl I wouldn’t shut up about back in high school, the one who rescued his dog. He was pleasantly surprised and seemed happy for me. He also seemed happy to see me, once his extreme shock had washed over a bit, though our conversation was quite awkward at first. But then he said he had to meet a friend and left promising to come back later, which I thought to be an excuse to run away from me and book an urgent therapy session to process the shock of me transitioning.

Always the optimistic, Michiru said I should trust him more and that he surely really had to meet a friend and would come back. I didn’t believe her and thought perhaps I had been stupid and naïve wishing for years we’d reconnect but never daring to call his mom to ask for his new contact info. I thought I was stupid for still caring and thought he had probably moved on with his life and would be uninterested in his old pal.

Now, I usually hate it when my wife is right, but I couldn’t be more glad in this case. A few minutes later, Pablo was back as promised. He brought his friend along so he could introduce us and he also brought a copy of a book he had just written with this other man who shares my name. Pablo drew a Cthulhu on the first page, autographed it and gave it to me as a present, for old times’ sake. I was so touched I just stared at him, blinking like an idiot.

And then we got talking and it was as if I had seen him just yesterday. We bantered and joked and reminisced and laughed at our disgraces… for we started talking about personal stuff right away as if we had never been apart. It was wonderful and I remembered why I loved him so much. I owe that man a lot. Not only because he got me alive through elementary and high school, but because he never treated me like a girl. To him, I was always one of the guys and I can see that now, because once the shock was over, he didn’t ask any of those morbid questions people ask about my transition (even old friends) nor did he make jokes about it. He just asked what my new name was, whether I was happy and used the right pronouns all the time.

He also said we should get together soon and play D&D or MTG or WoD or something. And logged the contact information I had written down for him onto his phone at once because he didn’t want to accidentally lose the paper and never hear from me again. That shocked me as well, because people I want to reconnect with usually are reluctant to do that and pretend to lose the piece of paper so they can avoid talking to me and I am so used to being one sided in all my friendly affections that I was thrilled to know he truly wanted to reconnect.

I know I wasn’t being fair in comparing him with all those people who pretended to be my friends while secretly wanting to get rid of me. I mean, Pablo and I grew up together. I’d spend the night at his place (slept in his sister’s room) countless times and he’d come home to play or talk or get secretly drunk countless times more and then, we’d go to the movies together whenever our dates stood us up (which was kind of often back then). He knew me inside out and I him and I’ve always considered him my brother so the prospect of him being uninterested in still being my friend hurt and I am thrilled that I found him again and got to reconnect with my partner in crime from so long ago.

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So, about Hotaru and paganism. The other day, the three of us were going somewhere (the theater I think, to see a play or the book fair perhaps, we’ve been out a lot lately) and Hotaru was telling us about a conversation she and her friends at school had had. It seems her BFF Lulu was shocked that she wasn’t a Christian (most of her class mates are studying to take their first communion soon so religion has been trending topic all year). And she said she wasn’t; that she was proud to be a pagan.

Now, whenever Hotaru makes a grown-up statement like that, Michiru has the habit of asking and poking around it, challenging her and making her justify her beliefs. She fears Hotaru might turn into one of those children who claim to be whatever religion their parents are and haven’t the slightest idea what it’s all about, the way some of Hotaru’s friends claim to be Christians but know less about Jesus than Hotaru does (we often discuss his historical figure over dinner and school her about how Christians are funny because they got all their facts wrong, unlike other major religions like Jews or Budhists)

Michiru and I want Hotaru to grow up as a cultured individual capable of critical thinking… though our questioning does make her a bit uncomfortable sometimes and we have to explain we’re not scolding her and only want to understand what she thinks and help her be the sort of person she wants to be. I told her it was OK if she chose not to be a Wiccan and preferred to have a different faith or none at all and she said she knew that.

Anyway, so Michiru asks Hotaru to define Paganism for her and she says something along the lines of “being in tune with nature and being one with everything in the universe” and then talks about harmony (和) and being considerate to others (思いやり). That satisfied Michiru but I asked what she liked best about being a pagan and Hotaru’s answer really surprised Michiru… not me though. I knew that she knows damn well what we’re all about for I often speak to her about what it means to be a Pagan.

Hotaru said she loved having animals and plants at home and lighting candles and hosting a dummy dinner on Samhain to remember her beloved Grandpa Leo and Grandma Nelly and Iris. I felt so happy that Hotaru is aware of what Paganism really is about. She’s still too young for spells and such and I’m not sure that I want to force feed her magick knowledgee. I might be dead wrong, but I humbly believe we all can (or rather should) be raised as mindful Pagans but Wicca is a call you need to hear for yourself before embarking in the proper study of the Craft.

So the other day at the fair, where all the organizers and the crafters and the shop keepers are blatantly pagan, Hotaru was fawning over a handmade ornate pen and she grinned at me and said “Daddy, look! That’s such a beautiful pen! Isn’t it absolutely pagan?” I grinned back. “It is.” I said. “But what made you think that?” “Well, it’s hand-made and it has leaves and flowers carved into it and a lovely white quartz on top.”

And then, later on she was admiring a piece of silver jewelry with the three moon stages and a moon stone in the center (her favourite stone besides pink quartz and pyrite) and she was like “My! There’s so many stones and beautifully crafted things in here… oh, and look! This necklace has the same symbol as your pajamas!” (I have a pair of pajamas with the triple Goddes symbol because it used to be a hoodie and it got too old for public use.)

So, I told her “Uh-huh. That’s the Goddess’s symbol. It represents her three stages. Maiden, mother and crone.” And she was thrilled. “There’s many other Pagan rings and necklaces around here!” She exclaimed to the shop owner’s delight. “I know.” I said with a smug smile. “You know how you complained the other day that almost everyone in this country is Christian or at least claims to be although they’ve no idea what their own religion is all aobut?” She nodded. “Well, almost everyone here is Pagan like us. That’s why they’re nice and polite and they craft beautiful things out of natural materials.”

She was so delighted she bounced up and down. I guess she doesn’t like feeling like the odd one out at school and finding a place where everyone is like us was sort of reassuring. She was grinning for the rest of the afternoon… except after lunch, when she and Romi fell asleep waiting for the live band concert to begin LOL. Guess they stayed up all night talking again and were tired.

As much as I love Romi (for she spends enough time at home that I feel at least like her funny uncle Ruka), I sometimes feel she’s missing out on the best things in life (spoiler alert: money can’t buy them) and suffer for her. Like the other day at the fair… I felt most of the beauty of it was lost on her… like she’d rather be eating fancy non medieval food and looking at pricey mass produced plastic stuff instead of hand-made perfumes and wood carved chests. Her mother is doing the best she can but I think this kid is a tad too materialistic. Or is that because she’s a Scorpio?

Oh, and the two of them tried their hand at the medieval archery stand… which had a lot more of archery than medieval. Their bows were made of synthetic materials and spray-painted in bright colors, but whatever. The thing is they both had pretty great aim, which comes to prove all those hours spent at the park playing with Hotaru’s bow paid off after all. The guy who tried to explain the basics to them as if they were five year olds was speechless LOL.

Hotaru has gotten to borrow my bass (which I named NANA) every now and then to get a break from practicing piano and has already learned to play three or four really simple songs, like Detective Conan’s first opening and a couple of old things from Guitar Hero 3.

Also, she’s got another A+ in Japanese this week and even Romi did well after studying with her all Saturday. I’m proud of them. They’re making great progress this year. Also, Hotaru is currently asleep and has been babbling in Japanese half the night. LOL I wonder what she’s dreaming about.

Her three extracurricular activities this year are acrobatics, which she chose over roller skating because she had already learned all the school teacher had to teach; piano, which she studies under Michiru’s old personal tutor, a woman whose students end up playing at the Colón Opera House (but who’s really dense to talk to unless the subject is gardening); and Taiko (that is japanese drums), where she was advanced from the beginner’s course to the intermediate one and her teacher is the one who trained the Mythical Koi, a group who started under her at Hotaru’s age and are now invited to participate in Japanese national Taiko competitions annually.

Hotaru’s taiko sensei is SUPER strict but she loves discipline and adores the woman. I can’t stand her but admit she’s an amazing sensei and a wonderful motivator as well as a talented musician. I just wish she wouldn’t call me on the phone if Hotaru ever is literally three minutes late for practice on a rainy day. Hotaru worships the floor she walks in and aspires to be like her someday. She loves Taiko so much she’s always counting the days until her next class although the training is REALLY INTENSIVE… and we’re talking boot-camp intensive here.

Also, my novels are coming along really well. They’re still years from being ready for publication but I’m in no hurry.

This post was all over the place but I’ve drank too much matcha to think straight and it’s been a while so there’s too much to write about. I really needed this. Blogging helps me stay optimistic, focus on the good things in life and be thankful for all the blessings in my life.

Speaking of blessings, yesterday was my brother’s birthday. He turned twenty-six (can’t believe he’s that old already!) and he came over for dinner and so did mom. I made my famous ginger/garlic chicken roast and she mom made the salads… spinach, tomato and carrots. We had insane fun looking at the pictures of Emi’s latest work (he’s selling art pieces made of liquor bottles) and then Hotaru showed him this book she got at the Book Fair about how to learn to do magic… He’s a pro magician and was touched to see her take an interest in something he loves and surprised at how good the book actually was despite being aimed at children (that’s quite rare). He said it had lots of really complex tricks and everything was explained nicely.

He also taught her a few tricks that weren’t in the book after dinner and then promised to come over some other day to teach her some more. Michiru loves him. I love it that they got along well. He is very nice to her. Brought her three dozen pots the day after she said she needed to buy some for her winter garden (Michiru has become a gardening fan and has quite the green thumb, too! She and my mother are on the phone a lot discussing techniques and what not, who’d have thought, right??).

Oh, Hotaru practiced her tricks a lot today during her school breaks and then some more when she got home and, later on, she showed me one of them. She made a coin disappear from her hand by clicking her fingers. I was in awe! That’s one of my brother’s simple tricks to entertain children (his usual grown-up repertoire often involves burning things that later appear unscathed in his hand!) and I’ve seen him perform it a million times, but I never guessed how he did it. And I still don’t know because she did it perfectly. I was amazed and oh-so-proud. ❤

Hectic 2018 is over

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I won’t even attempt to properly summarize what we’ve been up to but life has been sweet. The most important points?

Michiru and I did get married. ❤ The pagan ceremony (and the legal paperwork) were absolutely dreamlike and the party was ghastly enough for a Ben Stiller movie. Still, everyone who really mattered was either there (or hospitalized) and we had a lot of fun despite the flood and everything that went wrong (which was a lot).

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Aren’t we the most handsome couple you’ve ever seen? ❤ Hotaru is convinced that we are and so is my mother, but then again they might be biased. We spent our wedding night at the Sheraton Hotel and it was amazing. Then we honeymooned at my dad’s beach house and got locked out of the place on the first night (talking about everything that went wrong) and it was rainy for the entire ten days we spent there, but a nearby place sold great quality 1000 pieces puzzles at an amazing price and we bought three fort the money you’d buy only one here and worked on them for days.

We adopted two perfectly adorable cats who drive me insane. Hotaru named them Choko(reeto) and (hotto)Kokoa, which is hilarious since she’s allergic to chocolate but, hey! At least I’ve gotten pretty handy at making fake chocolate bombons out of powdered carob that taste like the real deal! Hotaru loves it in everything from warm milk to muffins… to tell the truth, so do I.

Michiru spotted Choko as he tried to sneak into dad’s beach house during a storm a year and a half ago. The second she went “Oh, Ruka, look! A kitty!” I knew how that story would end. We were on vacation but already had our mind set on adopting a black cat upon our return… especially Hotaru, who wouldn’t shut up about it since finding a mommy cat and her litter of black babies near school). So, when Choko showed up at our doorstep it seemed like a sign. The poor three month old bombay was famished and horribly thin but he was tame and loving so we asked around and, upon learning that no such kitty had gone missing and that there were several packs of cat eating wild dogs in the area, we took it back home with us.

Then the day after our arrival I went to a cattery to pick up a Seal Point Siamese female I had reserved earlier that month… only she wasn’t a Seal Point at all. It took a couple of months to show, but Kokoa is a blue point… well, sort of. She’s half and half but we love her all the same. Kokoa’s breeder was away on a business trip and had left her elderly mother in charge of the litter, so the poor two month old kitty was skinny from the older cats eating all her food and had a raw neck from her mother’s overparenting. It took her a while to get to a healthy weight but so did I so who am I to judge, right?

Choko didn’t like Kokoa immediately. He hissed at her and was fearful and hostile, which was scary because he was twice her size (still is), but she didn’t care one bit about his attitude and went about her normal business until he calmed down two weeks later. They have been absolutely inseparable since, to the point where they’re each other’s “person” rather than any of us, though both of them would suffer anything Hotaru decides to put them through.

They’re energetic and full of mischief and play around a lot, breaking everything in their wake. These two kitties didn’t come without an unique set of quirks. Choko suffers from oral anxiety leading to suckling on anyone’s clothes until they’re left dripping disgusting kitty drool and won’t sit on your lap at all though it’s social to the point of neediness. He loves being petted and cuddled and seems to have infinite patience when it comes to tolerating us humans. Its meowing sounds somewhat like a parrot… or exactly like a glass window being cleaned with a rubber blade. Also, Choko is freakishly smart and has learned to open doors and windows and the old fridge we had and all of the kitchen cabinets (both the lower ones and the top ones even Hotaru can’t reach yet!) and has figured out how to get to food under a tulle bell in less than 40 seconds which is both amazing and incredibly irritating for obvious reasons. Also, Choko is stubborn as hell. There’s no keeping anything from his curious paws and I swear the day that animal will conquer the world the day it gets opposing thumbs.

Kokoa, on the other hand, is quite dumb and keeps falling off surfaces although there’s nothing wrong with its balance, paws, eyesight and hearing (we’ve had her checked). In spite of that, Kokoa is a wonderful huntress (an area Choko is thoroughly uninterested in other than watching). As for her character, Kokoa is independent and whimsical. She’s definitely a lap cat but would huff, puff and leave in an instant if you try to pet or strike her fur at all. She takes weekly turns being nice to Michiru and I while she gives the other one the cold shoulder but she is very patient with Hotaru.

So, enough about cats, who are too self absorbed kitty piling over one another to care.

I started my transition on August the 17th 2018 while on a romantic trip to a secluded SPA with Michiru (which was eventful but still pleasant) and everything has been amazing since. No bad side effects, changes progressing slowly but steady and because I went with the gel sachets, my kidneys and liver are unaffected and well, thank you very much. I’ve been so busy with real life there hasn’t been much time to obsess over (or even pay attention to) every little hair and voice crack the way idle transgender people in their early 20’s do over youtube. The sporadic killing sore throats are a tad uncomfortable, to be honest, but it’s a small price to pay for manhood (?).

My mother has been most accepting of this once her initial shock washed over and the same can be said for Aunt Grace. My dad is trying his best but it’s been tough for him though he’s been nice enough to hide it for the most part. I think he’s starting to come to terms with things by now, especially after seeing me so happily married and leading a life I’m thrilled about. His wife and Aunt Grace’s husband have been incredibly supporting from the beginning and so has Sandra, cousin Ruben’s girlfriend (though it sounds weird to call her that when she’s in her late fifties).

Still, transitioning has been great, socially speaking. Even my 93 year old great aunt had little to say about it once she realized I was still getting married. Guess she wanted to see me married, regardless of the gender of the people involved LOL. Michiru’s grandparents have been incredibly supportive as well and the only problems have stemmed from unimportant people, namely, the parents of two of Hotaru’s friends but it’s been a very empowering learning experience for us all and the world didn’t come to an end so…

My health has been an issue as of late, though. I’ve been having random joint pain and inflammation for the past four years and six months ago it got to a point where I couldn’t cut my own food or brush my teeth in the morning, so I went to see a few docs and one of them diagnosed me with Rheumatoid Arthritis. The woman suggested a very aggressive approach with lots of strong medication (the kind usually prescribed for cancer) which I of course refused. Then I went to my usual physician for a second opinion and he said she must have been crazy to make a hasty diagnose like that when there isn’t enough evidence to clearly say I have RA rather than some random Rheumatism.

My younger brother Emi gave me some cannabidiol for that works wonders against the pain and reduced the nights the pain doesn’t let me sleep to once a month rather than twice or more a week. My doc decided to treat the issue with homeopathy so I’ve started taking those mild meds yesterday. I’m not extremely hopeful but I am willing to try anything to get my life quality back so we’ll see.

In the meanwhile, testosterone had taken the gift of music away from me and I was feeling it sorely (no pun intended), so I decided to learn to play an instrument to keep in touch with music through my transition. Worst case scenario, I can still create music even if I can no longer sing after my voice settles for good in a few years. Best case scenario? I get to sing AND play the bass guitar, which is what I’ve chosen to learn.

Why? Well, I’ve always had a specific love for four stringed instruments and fa-key in general. Plus, three of my good friends, Nacho, Peña and Panky are skilled bass guitar players and it just made sense as I could ask them for advice. What’s more, I’ve read the finger exercise is good to counter joint stiffness so that’s always a plus and it does help me a lot to get moving in the morning. Practicing after waking up means I get to brush my teeth normally in mornings I would have otherwise had reduced movement, which leaves me with gritty teeth throughout the day.

With all the remodeling and living expenses, I couldn’t afford a good bass guitar, not even a mediocre one, so I bought a fifteen year old second hand bass online for about $100. The money was a gift from my Godmother so I could use it freely without compromising the family budget. It turned out to be a great decision and a wonderful musical instrument… for what I need it for. It’s black and white and full of attitude, so I called her Nana after the anime character. It’s made of much better materials than new instruments in the same price range, so I think I was smart about it. I mean, her body is solid and her mikes don’t suck plus she’s in great shape for a fifteen year old lady bass guitar. Besides, it was love at first sight. ❤

My natural music affinity and absolute pitch help me a lot when it comes to practicing and I’m learning fast, though I do wish to hire a teacher at some point next year. At any rate, I’m doing this for myself so I’m not in a hurry and being able to play a bunch of the songs I love is all I’m hoping to get from it, so I’m happy with the way things are progressing.

Speaking of music… Hotaru took up piano lessons with Michiru’s old music teacher and everyone is thrilled with the arrangement. The woman loves working with her, Hotaru can’t get enough time alone with her piano at home after homework and chores, and Michiru and I love that she has an emotional outlet for whatever emotions hit her once adolescence sets in a few years, so it’s a win-win situation so far. She is also learning to play the flute at school and she has proved to have inherited my family’s musical genes and absolute pitch. She loves playing the flute during breaks at school and she has recently asked for permission to borrow Nana. The kid’s talented. She can already play Join me by HIM and Hit me with your best shot by Pat Benatar and keeps practicing whenever she gets frustrated with the piano. She has to be the coolest eight year old in the world… in my humble opinion LOL.

Michiru and I are doign great, though there isn’t much to tell about us as a couple. We’ve settled into a comfortable routine and that is GOOD, considering we have both dreamed of a stable relationship since our teenage years (rather than the constant thrill most people wrongly seek). We share views and core values, argue sporadically and in a civilized, constructive manner and enjoy a wide array of activities during our couple time together every night. We love to go on long walks on the weekends and talk well into the night whenever there’s a chance. It’s like we can never bore each other out, there’s always something interesting to discuss, from recent scientific discoveries to the fashion sense of other parents our age.

We also love working on puzzles. This was originally Michiru’s favourite past time but she invited me to join her a couple of times and I loved it, so now it’s sort of a family thing. Even Hotaru, Setsuna and Miki join along sometimes. I tend to get a sore neck easily, so when that happens, I sit nearby and read outloud for her benefit. Michiru loves sharing my favorite books this way for she loves stories but reading puts her to sleep like nothing else, so it’s a good way for us to both enjoy books and it brings us much closer than just reading them separately and then discussing them. I absolutely love discussing interesting concepts with her and debating until way past our bedtimes.

Michiru and I also go to museums or to the theater on weekends if Hotaru has chosen to have a sleepover at my mom’s. The two of them love going shopping and dining out but they also go to the movies a lot. Miki and her boyfriend Gabe take her out to the movies sometimes as well, but they usually go swimming with her. This guy is a lot better than Miki’s former boyfriend who was a jerk.

Oh, and speaking of in-laws… well, my mother in law deserves a post to herself. But I have to say she’s been good lately, which makes me happy. I really want all of us to get along and be nice to one another.

About a month ago, Hotaru decided to donate two copies of a board game she likes to her school (one for the elementary students and the other one for the high school students) and wrote the headmaster a very grown up letter explaining the situation. She also gave the present to him in a very Japanese fashion so the old man was amazed and asked how come she was so mature at 8 years of age. Hotaru said she didn’t know and then proceeded to tell the man the stody of how Michiru and I met at the Mugen Gakuen 16 years ago (after the headmaster asked how come she knew the correct Japanese formula for gift giving). In the end, the elementary school headmaster sent her a very proper thank you note and, a week after that, the high school headmaster sent her another note thanking her for the donation, as he didn’t want to fail thanking her personally for the gesture. We can’t be prouder of her. It’s physically impossible. We’d probably burst if we were. XD

I think that’s pretty much everything that’s been going on lately… everything except for the big news.

Michiru and I are planning on having a baby. We’ve had several interviews at the fertility clinic this year and are two test results away from finally beginning the IUI process. We’re so impatient it’s hard to focus on work lately, but everyone in the family is excited about the prospect, particularly Hotaru and my mom. Well, not quite sure about Michiru’s mother, but I guess she’ll get there. The poor woman is probably overstressed what with things being bad at work and her 91 year old mother living with her after she injured herself in a fall.

Oh, Michiru discovered herself a pagan too, so our wedding ceremony was pagan on account of that (it was perfect ❤ and her BFF Ami officed as High Priestess) and now we all get to share sabbats and such together as a family, which is lovely. Religion and faith are much better when shared. Speaking of sharing… my brother Emi came by for our dummy dinner on Samhain. We placed seats and dishes for Leo, both my grandmas and Michiru’s grandpa. It was very touching and it did Hotaru good (for she had been missing Grandpa Leo a lot lately), but I’ll save the details for another day. I’ll only say that Emi wants to move to Mexico… I usually am against moving abroad but it’s the only way he can currently escape his abusive mother so I’m trying to help however I can. I’m gonna miss him badly.

One last big announcement and I’m gone. Setsuna is pregnant!

I know. It’s insane. Like, there’s so many reasons why we all feared she might have trouble conceiving… but they made it happen on the first month of trying so yay! Hotaru is thrilled to have a new cousin and she’s also excited about having a new baby brother or sister, since she’s been asking for one for the past three years now.

Setsuna’s baby was actually twins but she hasn’t been leading the healthiest lifestyle as of late (has she ever?) and she lost one at week 8. Also, she has diabetes. We found out at a dr’s app I took her too, a while after I was told I had celiac’s disease (I know, we’re old as fu… you don’t realize how old you’re getting until you get together with your friends to accompany one another to doctor’s appointments LOL). So that, we’re officially old. Old enough to become parents and have grown up conditions anyway.

As for the boys, they still rock and we’re closer than ever though it’s been a bumpy road last year thanks to Panky inviting his BFF into the group and her falling in love with him despite him being gay (it was a little drama where she lashed out on Fran during our D&D sessions and Agus and I felt uncomfortable just being there but Fran got fed up and left and Agus and I backed him up because we don’t tolerate bullies. In the end, we drove her abusive ass away from our beloved group and everything’s back to normal. Justice has been done and it has proved me that they are indeed worthy to be my friends, unlike Hika and Iresa and other loosers I’ve had the displeasure of hanging around in the past).