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.

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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).

CATCHING UP

A lot has happened since I last was in the mood for blogging. Life at our new house has been wonderful but super hectic. So, let me get a bit up to date with things.

 

 

ME:

JOB-WISE, I’ve stepped in as an Okami, or small hotel owner, which comes with no little dose of trouble but it keeps me busy and gives me a sense of purpose (on top of paying the bulk of our bills). We currently have four to six tenants in the rooms up front in any given moment (there’s an iron gate to separate their side of the property from ours) and I’ve already learned the basics like don’t believe lies like “my dad is in his death bed” unless the other person is crying their heart out, and tell them everything important in advance, especially that while deposits are refundable, reserves aren’t.

At the beginning of the year I became one of the head parents for Hotaru’s year, so I go to delegate meetings and then tell the other parents what was said and then inform the school of what 1B parents thought of it. My co-worker is Kurokawa-san. She’s extremely competitive but her heart is in the right place and she’s very supportive of me and my family in general. There’s other two head parents (Aranda-san and this other woman whose name I can never remember).

I’ve also volunteered to help 母の会 with the school events, so I’ve been running all over Mugen Gakuen like crazy helping Mariera-san and the other 母の会 members with the preparations for Karaoke, Bazaa and NM, the three main yearly events at Hotaru’s school. I love feeling useful without the pressure of responsibility over my shoulders. Still, it’s been rather taxing physically. I’ll try to take it easier next year.

Writing has been slow, then uber fast, then slow again… like always, but I think it’s been more constant and consistent than before. I’m hoping to make the most of this summer to finish my first book once and for all. I’ve been focusing mostly on the sequels lately.

Mugen Gakuen is opening a brand new Japanese Studies career in 2019 and I’d like to give it a try, since it’s the dream career I’ve been wanting to study since I was like 14. I mean… besides genetic engineering. The thing is, by 2019 we’re gonna have a brand new baby in the house, so I don’t think those two goals are really compatible if you’re hoping for a stress free life like I am.

 

HEALTH WISE, (and let’s start with my mental health), I’ve dumped my therapist the second the judge said it wasn’t mandatory anymore, and it’s made me feel MARVELOUS. I felt I weighted a ton less the second I decided not to see her anymore.

Also, on mental health: I came out as a trans man to my friends and family. My mom has had a bit of a hard time accepting this in the beginning and still struggles a bit and my dad doesn’t acknowledge the fact that I’m a man (but he doesn’t contradict or correct me either and we even celebrated father’s day together), but it looks like we’ll get there. Aunt Grace wasn’t on board until I explained to her that it hurt me when she misgendered me and now she’s the one who never does and who constantly comes to me with the latest bit of trans news or gossip in our city.

Mom was difficult, but then again she was struggling with Leo’s death and her own retirement (she retired on July the 1st) and her move into a new apartment (they demolished the house I grew up in after all…). But we’ve talked and talked and then talked some more and even though she didn’t want me to transition in the beginning, mostly because my lawyer told me to wait for a while before doing that, mom has finally come on board with it and offered to come with me to the state office when I decide to get a legal name/gender change.

Luckily for me, last time we went to see my lawyer I asked him a million questions and he had to admit that me transitioning won’t affect the trial we’re about to face for the next few years, so yay!

My doc said I’m physically wonderful, but that I should go to the gym and start lifting weight to avoid constantly pulling my muscles, but mainly because it’ll help me fight gender dysphoria while I wait for the chance to begin my HRT treatment. I did join a gym about a month ago and it’s been magical. My trainer came up with a routine specially for me, so it meets my needs. Proof of that is the fact that my body is starting to look more androgynous, even without hormones.

I’m looking forward to starting HRT soon. I still need to finish my treatment at the fertility clinic and then get some tests done before that, so it’ll probably be around February, but it’ll most definitely help me pass. My only fear is that I might be unable to sing once my voice is done settling in its new pitch, as some other trans men have declared, but I’ve already sung in a (quite famous!) band, so if I can never sing again it won’t be super terrible. Well, there’s also the health safety concern, of course, but that’s more like a general fear of the unknown rather than a specific thing. In the end, I’m gonna go with whatever turns out to be the safest option (probably gel), as my desire to pass isn’t big enough for me to want to risk my well being in the process.

Speaking of passing, I started using Minoxidil for the past six months and got quite a decent beard and mustache (again, considering I’m not taking hormones yet). It helps me pass 90% of the time, but I only pass as a thirteen year old… but I still love it. Sometimes they think I’m Hotaru’s older brother and take Michiru for our mother. It’s been hilarious =P

 

HOTARU:

The kid has been blooming nonstop since the move. =D Even with Lana’s passing, she’s been doing great. She’s the best student in her Spanish, Japanese and English classes (#proudad). Her last report card had 24 “A+” in it… out of 28 school subjects. The other four were “only” A’s, and it’s not like we’re driving her up the walls so she will study. The kid comes back home hooting in delight whenever they give her homework and has worked hard of her own volition to improve her grades in the subjects where she doesn’t have top marks (she had only 20 “A+”s in her first report card). Let me clarify that her lower grades are in less important subjects like PE, music, technology, etc).

In the extracurricular category, Hotaru has been taking roller skating lessons and even though she came home crying the first few classes because she fell a lot and the other (much older) girls didn’t, now she has gotten the hang of it and enjoys the activity thoroughly. She’s also taking swimming lessons at school (so, technically it’s curricular), but she already knows how to swim, so this is no news. The kid wanted to take acting lessons as well, but the school recommended for 一年生 to avoid having more than one extracurricular activities, so we’ve put that on hold until next year. She’s a bit impatient on this regard.

Socially, Hotaru broke up with her boyfriend and had a fleeting crush on her friend Lulu-chan but I think she’s now over it, though she still admires Lulu-chan a lot. Rami-kun is her other close friend since she was three years old and the three of them have adapted to the new school wonderfully. They spend a lot of time together, but have also made new friends like Mercedes-chan, Matsu-chan, Emma-chan and Phillip-kun. She’s particularly close with a girl named Megumi-chan whose mother used to work with my mom and who regularly comes over for after school play dates.

Megumi-chan is very well mannered although a bit tantrum prone. She eats a lot and loves my hotcakes so I often make them for the girls whenever she comes over. Now that the weather is getting warmer, we just buy a ton of strawberries and eat them with fruit juices and shakes. Hotaru likes a fruit mix, while Megumi-chan favours apple juice. Call me old school, but I usually go with orange juice… or pear/peach smoothie, depending on what’s available at home. The girls love the smoothies as well.

Emma-chan is the shy Japanese girl Hotaru threw her birthday party with. She’s beautiful like a delicate porcelain doll and Hotaru loves her like a little sister, although we’ve explained to her that she shouldn’t be condescending.

Michiru and I suspect that Rami-kun might be gay because of the way he moves and the things he says and how he always prefers to play with the girls rather than the boys. He’s super sweet and keeps giving everyone hugs and writes things like Love ❤ on his hands all the time. Also, we fear Phillip might be a trans girl, because he keeps saying “Oh, mom, look! I’m Rapunzel!” or some other Disney princess and keeps consistently picking princess costumes and masks whenever we (or somebody else) organizes a themed birthday or costume party. He even cried when he wasn’t allowed to wear a skirt and dance with the girls at a recent birthday party and refused to play soccer with the other boys.

This worries us a bit because his mother is… well. She isn’t particularly open minded and keeps insulting him and degrading him in public in very humiliating ways every time he does something “gay” or girly. She would tell anyone who’d listen that her son is a huge faggot and that he’s a crybaby because he cries all the time if something upset him and such. The kid is very sensitive, he and Rami-kun draw all the time and are great at it. Rami-kun even won the first prize at the school drawing competition this year!

Michiru and I fear for the future of Hotaru’s friends because they have these not quite understanding parents supposedly looking after their needs, only they couldn’t see their real needs if they slapped them in the face. Lulu-chan is the same. Her parents got divorced a year and a half ago. She’s Hotaru’s BFF and her mother can’t stand us. She’d greet everyone but us and if we do greet her she’d mumble something under her breath and move on. I’ve tried talking to her in the past, asking for a play date for Hotaru and she not only told me to ask her ex, she also was rude to me (well, she almost always is), which is unsurprising, considering she was in good terms with Dr. Tomoe.

Michiru can’t stand her for it and neither can I, although for a different reason: she’s denying Hotaru the chance to have fun with her friend outside school. Lulu-chan has told her “my mom won’t let me go to your house” in the past, so we know it’s not just our imagination. Still, the rest of the parents are nice and respectful to us, so yeah.

There’s been a school camp and Hotaru enjoyed every second of it with her friends. It was everything she had expected and more. We’re happy that she could attend, because of what her old school pulled on us at the last minute last year.

Hotaru is still very allergic to chocolate, but she has ceased to have asthma attacks… at least for now, but the weather has been mild in spite of the sudden temperature drops, so it might be seasonal. We’ll have to wait and see.

The kid has adapted brilliantly to her new routines and responsibilities. Her therapist, Helga-san, is happy with her development and adores her… though not quite as much as her English teacher, who is fighting fiercely for the #1 fan spot. LOL. The woman worships Hotaru and her ability with languages. She can efficiently communicate in Spanish, Japanese and English if she needs to, though most of the talking at home is done in either Japanese or Spanish.

Hotaru still has some trouble with particles, but can hold a normal talk in Japanese as long as you stick to the subjects she already knows (which is around 3rd grade level). I teach her a lot at home and she understands even more than she can speak, which never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes I throw a very long, complex sentence her way and she gets it all. We found a lovely app by PIBO named  えほん, which we use to listen to illustrated stories in Japanese every night. We also go to the 図書室 weekly to interact with real books in Japanese, so her current level is rather high. She still recognizes about a hundred kanji and enough words to play shiritori for hours with Michiru and me. Michiru fears her English might be getting a little stale because she’s shy about it, but Hotaru can still watch full age appropriate movies in English with no subs and understand all of it, so yeah… there’s also that.

Also, on a social note, Hotaru has met Michiru’s grandparents and they absolutely love each other. She adores going over there for dinner and Michiru’s Ojiisan absolutely worships her. They play games and tease one another over dinner and Hotaru has said she’s happy to have great-grandparents once again. I do get along with them beautifully myself, but that’s besides the point. Michiru’s mother and sister also adore Hotaru and she sometimes spends the day (or the night) at their place, where the lot of them organizes Disney movie marathons, indulge in karaoke, or paint mandalas for hours at a time.

 

MICHIRU:

The crisis she underwent upon moving in with us seems to have calmed down somehow. She now helps around the house and doesn’t get anxiety for not having as much me-time as she did living with her mother and sister. I still do most of the cooking and shopping, but she does most of the cleaning, so it’s rather fair, I think. Things at her workplace were horrible, but there’s been a change in hierarchy recently that evened things out quite a bit between Michiru and her co-workers. Now she’s happier and less stressed out. She never comes home in a crying outrage anymore, which is a relief, because it was having a deep negative impact in her health, which I didn’t know how to counter on my own.

Her relationship with her mother went through a rough patch as well, but it now seems to be improving slightly. I think that, if she keeps setting healthy boundaries, things between her and Kaioh-san will continue to go down a much healthier path.

Our relationship has improved quite a bit as well, particularly since Lana’s passing. Michiru’s support became undeniably evident at that point and I felt I could truly trust her to get my back whenever I can’t handle something and I stopped feeling like I had to be able to deal with everything on my own for everyone’s sake. Now I feel this is more of a partnership and loving every second of it.

Oh, and, since we’re on the subject… We’re getting married next November ^^ and plan on start trying for a baby since September (2018). Hotaru is even more excited than Michiru and I which is saying something. She just can’t wait to be an older sister and keeps pushing Michiru and I to hurry up. LOL. Patience has never been anyone’s strongest suit in this family. Michiru still has to get a bunch of tests done, but at least on my end, things are ready to go. All I need to do is get my Health Insurance Company to approve the budget and freeze the eggs. Easy enough, right? Well, getting there took forever, even if it now seems simple.

Michiru hasn’t celebrated her birthday in ages but, as we were organizing Hotaru’s party, she asked me if she could have a Frozen piñata for hers, so I agreed under the condition that she had to let me throw her a party. I’ve recruited her sister Miki-chan to help with the prepping. Hotaru has several ideas for the party and we’re all super excited about this (except for Michiru herself, but that can’t be helped =P).

This semester has been particularly calm for Michiru at college. She’s only two or three courses shy of graduation and then she’ll have an art teacher degree. Her idea is to continue working as a sales rep for robotic companies, but who knows… perhaps she’ll change her mind someday. The important thing is that she will have an option to fall back on if something unexpected happens. She’s been toying with the idea of changing companies or perhaps getting a job as a teacher at Mugen Gakuen, but she needs her degree first… and the next semester promises to be a tough one. The few courses she needs to take are very demanding and she gets insanely upset and suffers from anxiety attacks whenever she has to sit a final or present an essay… but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes. In the meanwhile, life has been kind with us.

 

THE HOUSE:

There’s been lots of things to repair, buy, upgrade, organize, tidy up, replace and other verbs I can’t even remember right now. But it’s starting to look more and more like a home. We’re planning on setting a pool in the upstairs terrace this summer and put lots of plants all around its border to give it a more outdoorsy feeling. The tomatoes my mom planted last year have come out in our downstairs pots recently and are in full bloom. We’re hoping for bees 😉

Hotaru’s room is the best looking one. The three of us are slowly painting a sakura tree on one of the walls and she has her own pink mirror (it used to be mine, not that I’d miss it! =P) and last weekend we’ve installed a canopy over her bed so the mosquitoes won’t bother her this summer. It was a project where the three of us worked together and the final result was amazing. She loves it and Michiru and I are super proud of how it turned out.

Our bedroom still needs tons of work, as in truly separating it from our creative studio and decorating the wall behind our headboard, but we’re in no hurry there, as it’s a place where we only go to sleep, when we’re too tired to notice the decor. LOL.

The kitchen is perfect and the living room was looking great (mom gave us the long table Leo and her had bought together so we could remember him… it was his death’s anniversary last week and I miss him a lot!). The only problem there is the past two storms there were severe leaks all over the living room ceiling and now we need to put some membrane in place in order to keep it from further acting as a sieve… which Santi-san has promised to do soon. That’d be our handyman.

Speaking of the devil, he’s divided one of the two shared dorms up front into two singles and we’re not talking about doing the same with the remaining one, because the girls stopping there keep laughing in the middle of the night and being loud in general. Better to divide and conquer, I guess. =P It’s gonna be a bit taxing on our economy during the summer, but it will also mean a better income and more stability in the long run, so I know it’s the right call.

Our tiny japanese garden is still a work in progress. No koi fish pond or fountain yet, but we’ve gotten a nice Furin for it at the last event at Hotaru’s school and mom brought us a bamboo plant (together with some palms and dozens other cute things) so it’s starting to look up and quite eye-catching as it is.

The back patio between the kitchen and the bathroom still hasn’t been enclosed in glass, which turned out to be a real problem during winter. However, milder weather has arrived and now we’re in no hurry to fix it. There were a few bumps in this particular road and we had to take off a roof that threatened to fall down on us, and ask for the glass guy to redo the budget to include those extra meters… but it will happen at some point, we just don’t know exactly when… especially because this summer we’re going on vacation for the first time in like five years. I’m actually excited about it, though a little apprehensive where my mental health is concerned. We’ll see…

 

SETSUNA:

My dearest friend had a big argument with her boyfriend over whether to have a baby soon or not. They lived separately for a while and decided to stay together in the end, but wait for a bit before trying for a baby. They got a cute gray cat instead and named it after a LOL character, though we all keep giving it funny nicknames because the name is odd and honestly not nice. So, yeah. Mini-cat is the newest thing in town, he’s uber cute, but bit me viciously last time we went over for a visit.

 

ODANGO ATAMA-TACHI

This is a particularly touchy subject. Things with Usagi have been complicated… meaning that she asked me to introduce her to a friend of mine she fancied, and she acted like a crazy person with him by treating the guy like a lifelong boyfriend a week into their tentative relationship, then called him a stalker. About a month later, she desperately needed a job, so Michiru pulled a few strings and got her one as an assistant to one of her high school friends. Thing is Odango Atama messed it up, lost the job and then called the guy who hired her a stalker… when she clearly has a crazy psychopath soon to be ex-husband who PERSISTENTLY stalks her. I mean, any sane person would have blamed the usual stalker, not people who really didn’t have access to her home landline to begin with, as I’m pretty sure neither my friend nor Michiru’s is capable of that much digging to get to a phone number.

Well, Usagi kept calling me to complain about the people we introduced to her and generally acting like a maniac (I mean, she’s always been eccentric, but this goes WAY beyond that and into the land of wacko). And I got tired of it so I told her that I hated to get caught in the middle when I’ve been trying to help, that she should solve these issues by talking to the right people…

I saw her a couple of times after these incidents (which happened about a month ago) and then she appeared in our front steps one morning unannounced and rang the bell persistently until I went down (initially thought one of the tenants had called for delivery) and then told me she was worried about my safety because I failed to immediately answer a text she had sent me the previous night. I was on my way out and told her so… she then invited herself to escort me to a tattoo parlor and made me late for my appointment (won’t be getting a tattoo after all, but not because of her).

So I sort of ghosted her for a while and now got a new text from her last night that I haven’t checked yet. To be honest, she’s ben acting strange ever since starting Zumba lessons at a nearby gym, although I fail to see the connection there. My guess is she got a new group of friends and that somehow destabilized her on some level… or perhaps she’s always like this and that’s why her mom keeps checking up on her at all times when she’s alone as if she were an irresponsible 14 year old… which she sometimes resembles.

My only regret is that this might hurt Hotaru’s relationship with Chibi-Usa-Chan, but what can I do if this woman keeps bringing us problems whenever we try to help her out? I mean, I don’t feel inclined to see her and spending time together has become extremely awkward. I won’t cut her out of our lives altogether, though. Thought that perhaps if I gave her some space she might chill out a bit.

Last time I saw her, she mentioned that Chibi-Usa-Chan was getting an eye operation on December. I wonder if it was true at all… she’s been lying to me a lot lately, especially when it comes to her kid’s health. Oh, and she has also had a fallout with our lawyer to the point where he had to ask her to leave his office, so yeah… she’s on a streak.

 

Anyway… we’re all alive and relatively OK, so that’s what I wanted to convey.

Goodbye my sweet Lana

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Today our cat Lana passed away. Michiru went to the vet clinic (Ami was with her) and had her euthanized because she was suffering a lot and there was no chance of recovery. She had been deteriorating for two weeks, so it was for the best, as she was fifteen plus years, but still… we’re gonna miss her dearly.

My heart is broken for this furry bundle of love that’s been the light of my eye since February 2016. She was the best cat that ever was. Never bit or scratched people, greeted you upon arrival and slept curled by your feet all year long. Setsuna has been of great help and support to me these past few days and so have the girls. Michiru and Hotaru are both heartbroken and we only hope she didn’t suffer much.

 

Slowly settling down

2017-03-31 18.23.342017-04-01 20.00.462017-04-01 20.02.112017-04-03 18.24.352017-04-06 17.10.382017-04-13 15.37.472017-05-02 16.26.362017-05-02 23.44.302017-05-06 16.24.492017-05-09 11.35.502017-05-13 14.29.392017-05-13 16.40.242017-05-13 14.05.052017-05-13 16.40.242017-05-13 13.17.452017-05-13 13.22.442017-05-13 18.19.212017-05-15 22.45.27IMG-20170328-WA0042IMG-20170328-WA0043IMG-20170329-WA0029IMG-20170508-WA0031.jpgLife has been super hectic around here. Hotaru, Michiru and I moved into our dream house about three months ago on March the 24th. It was pretty crazy for the first month, with everything still packed in boxes and huge black bags that could have easily contained one or two of us inside.

Unpacking proved to be quite a challenge when you also need to come up with a definitive place for everything and haven’t bought half the furniture you need to place things. Mom gave us a few hand me downs and my whole family on both sides came to lend a hand with the move.

Hotaru is thoroughly enjoying her new school. She had no trouble adapting whatsoever, which is a huge relief. She made lots of new friends like Phillip, Sophi, Romi and Emma. The latter is almost an entire year younger than our little firefly, so she’s very protective of her, which is uber cute.

Romi was a bit creepy in the beginning, as she kept telling Hotaru that she was insane and sometimes killed people. It turns out she is only a compulsive liar, which isn’t much to worry about at age six, if you ask me. After talking to the kid and the parents for while, I’ve come to think she’s alright. Her dad kind of gives Michiru and I the creeps, though.

Our morning routine is sweet and helps us start the day with a smile. Hotaru gets up on her own when her alarm clock goes off. Then we get ready, have breakfast (or at least the kid and I do) and leave the house. We walk Hotaru to school and then I walk Michiru to her bus stop and come back home to get started on the HUGE pile of things to do.

I’ve fixed furniture, dealt with repairmen, technicians, neighbors, blackouts, running out of water and having our gas connection leak… among other more mundane things like domestic chores and grocery shopping. It’s all right, though. Michiru helps whenever she can. It’s a bit harder now that her college classes have started again, but it’s only for this one year.

She’s having a hardest time adapting to living here, used as she was to have her mother deal with most of the house work, but she’s a smart cookie, she’ll get the hang of it soon enough. Hotaru, on the other hand, felt this house as her own from the third day, so that made things a lot easier for us all.

Me? Well, I felt a bit lonely in the beginning, what with Hotaru gone for eight hours a day and all. But it had nothing to do with the house. I love the house and, honestly, I’ve gotten pretty used to being here alone all day, every day. I’ve always enjoyed spending time by myself, so that’s not a problem.

What is a problem, though is having too many items on my TO DO list. The damned thing is ever growing, no matter how much I try to tackle it. There’s always a lock that needs replacing, or a curtain that needs fixing or we’re out of power for like an entire week!

That’s been tough, the power blackouts. During our second and third months here we spent half the time dining by candlelight. That sounds a lot more romantic than it really was. I mean, it was fun the first two or so days, but then the glow stick games became old and Hotaru wasn’t the only one fed up with the situation. Throwing piles of food away every three or four days because they just couldn’t keep the power flowing was beyond frustrating and very depressing.

It seemed there was a problem with our phase, but then we paid an electrician to switch us to a different one and there were two more blackouts that lasted over two days each. In the end, the school around the corner was too outraged at this situation and complained to the power company who had to fix it ASAP since a public school was involved.

In other news, Chibi Usa had to change back to her old school last week because of severe bullying. She got slapped in the face by a kid seven years her senior, who kicked her and walked over her when she fell to the floor and then a teacher scolded her for laying there rather than helping her wash her bloody face. It was horrible. We’re all terribly sorry for her and hope it doesn’t leave too many emotional scars.

Hotaru was devastated to hear about it and, to be honest, so was I. It hits way too close to home for me. The poor child ended up in hospital as her blood pressure spiked up because of this.  I’ve lived through similar stuff so I know just how hard it must be for her. Glad Odango Atama was smart enough to change her to a different school right away. It took my mom six whole years to do the same thing.

Mom got her retirement notice last Friday and spent the entire weekend panicking. She just can’t fathom life without a job and doesn’t know what to work at now that she won’t be going back to the office, so it’s been a challenging six months for her. I trust she’ll find her way eventually. It must be tough after forty three years in the same place…

Dad is all right and so is the rest of the family on his side. We had them all over for a barbecue last Saturday. It was amazing. We all had a blast. I love my family… and speaking of family, a fortnight ago we had dinner with Michiru’s family and it was just as wonderful. I feared I might feel awkward or something and was a bit shy in the beginning, but then I realized they make me feel super comfortable. They’re all very approachable and we can speak on the same level, which is a first to me considering Dr. Tomoe’s relatives were cavemen.

I had to stop teaching because there was never enough quality time for Hotaru and I to spend together now that she goes to school morning and afternoon and we haven’t been able to work on our beloved crafts which makes me a bit sad, but at the same time, we’ve been reading books to each other (yes, she’s that good at reading already! SO PROUD!) and that’s very nice.

Michiru and her have bonded a lot and I try to remind myself to allow them space to have their own codes and things, to have a relationship outside of my presence. They just click, so I’ve had nothing to worry about so far.

Even Lana has perked up and is now happier than ever, coming and going all over the house as if she owned it. This is news to me, the fact that she can act like a real cat. LOL She’s even up to some mischief whenever we’re not paying close attention.

Oh, and we’ve made the most of these powerless nights by perusing my old telescope to gaze the moon and star clusters. It’s been really romantic in spite of the inconvenience. Hotaru has enjoyed herself thoroughly exploring the moon’s surface.

 

Chibi Usa and Odango Atama come over for tea often on the weekends and we talk for hours while the girls play on the terrace or in Hotaru’s room. Mom comes over after work, or, at least, she did until last Friday (wow, can’t believe she’s retiring!) and Aunt Grace sometimes comes over for tea during the week when she doesn’t feel like going to her dance class.

Michiru and I have been watching Battlestar Galactica together at night. I’ve been hung up with Outlander, which I enjoy during lunch, and the three of us enjoy Anne with an E during dinner now that we have power again. I love the fact that Hotaru can enjoy Anne of Green Gables with me. I loved those books. Lately, I had been thinking of just how much I’d love for her to read them and enjoy them as I did. So, when I saw it on Netflix, I forced the girls to sit down and watch it with me. They liked it =P don’t think I’d be so unreasonable as to force them to sit through it.

Oh, and I’ve been working HARD on editing my novel’s third draft and advancing my other writing projects whenever I have an hour or two to spare. There really is TOO MUCH to do here. Like putting up shelves and mirrors and lamps… and cleaning… the cleaning is never ending. But we love it here.

There’s no way I can condense three months of super hectic life experiences here, but we’re all thriving here. It lifts my heart to see Hotaru and Michiru (and Lana) so happy! Even the basil we’ve planted in the pots outside are thriving!

I mean, there has been some bad things, like my last wisdom tooth giving me a hard time and the UTI Michiru accidentally gave me… and her having constant migraines and back pain because her boss is an arse and her schedule totally insane, but other than that, we’re happy as you can be.