March 10th, 2010
Okay, so I'm on the verge of quitting Nova, I'm just waiting for my visa to get renewed (so I don't get deported). The school I was at, Nerima, I liked a lot -- I got along with the staff girl, the commute was very reasonable, and the students were brighter on average. But then they closed Nerima, and my new schedule has me going to four different schools, all of them further away, one of them a truly ridiculous commute. So yeah, I put in my notice the day they gave me that new schedule, then realized that my visa was set to expire three days after quitting Nova. So I talked to one of the foreign managers:
Him: Hey, I called to see how you were doing?
Me: Pretty good, except I just realized that I timed my quitting badly and I'm likely to get deported.
Him: Hmm, well if you agree to work with us until the end of March, so we have more time to find a replacement, we'll renew your visa.
Me: Sure, that's more than fair.
Him: Alright, let me just talk to the Japanese manager.
Well, the Japanese manager decided to be a dick about it, and was basically like, "Well if you're going to quit then we have no responsibility to keep you from getting deported." When I talked to him on the phone and explained the situation, he was like, "Oooh, we've got your visa right here. It's in my desk right now. I'm looking at it as we speak. It was all ready to go, BUUUT then you said you were going to quit, SOOOOO...." ("I'M HOLDING IT OVER THE TRASHCAN! I'M COUNTING DOWN FROM TEN!") So I was like, Fine, whatever, I un-quit, gimme my visa package. It was all kind of a mess.
The upshot is that now I have senioritis of Nova like crazy. I am so ready to be out of this job.
But that's not the funny story; funny story is this:
So one of my favorite classes at the Nerima school was a relatively low-level class, because of these two guys who often ended up taking classes together. One of them we'll call Hiro, who was a middle-aged anime director, of all things, who was kind of hilariously a perv and liked to tell lots of bullshit stories about his girlfriends, plural. The other one was a slightly younger guy named Kazu, who was quite funny in his own right, and when I got the two of them in the same class they would just enable each other like nobody's business. I also got the feeling that Kazu sort of had a crush on me. (Which made Meridel and Shelley roll their eyes and be like, "You think EVERYONE has a crush on you," which is patently untrue. Hiro couldn't care less about me.)
About a week and a half before Nerima closed, I was doing a lesson on taking phone messages. There were four students in the class, Kazu among them, so I'd split them up into pairs for the activity: "Alright, you two are trying to call me, but you got my secretary instead so leave a message -- secretaries, I want my messages when we're done. Go!"
I had to split my attention to pay attention to both, and I tuned back in to Kazu and his partner to hear the girl saying, extremely dubiously, "Uhm... I'll tell him. Thank you for... calling?" Kazu: [practically bouncing] "Thanks! Bye bye!" Turned out the message was "Tell Gabriel-sensei that he looks like a young Paul McCartney", which is pretty funny and quite flattering. (Considering that the Inaccurate Foreigner Comparison I used to get was "You look like that kid from the Sixth Sense!" -- me: "You mean a prepubescent Haley Joel Osmott? Thanks.")
Then the next message she took down for Kazu was "Ask Gabriel-sensei to show me pictures of his girlfriend." Which is not an uncommon sort of request, the students are always pruriently curious about my personal life. But this time Nerima was going to close in a week, so I was like, "Sure. Ask me again after your final class here and I'll show you." (I was thinking of the pictures of Shinya that I had in my phone.) And of course they're like, "Whaaat? Why does it have to be after the last class? Show us now!!" but I stuck to my guns.
Fast-forward to the last class on the last day, which happened to be the same-ish group, Kazu and Hiro and this girl named Misa who REALLY DOES have a crush on me, even Kazu noticed it. Bell rings and Kazu is like, "You promised~~! :D" So I'm like, Okay, sure. And I get my phone, pull up the hot picture of Shinya and pass it to them with a "His name is Shinya."
And this is Japan, after all, not America -- the odds of stumbling across a closet homophobe is incredibly low. There were a few moments of "Shinya--?" "This--" "That is not a girl--" followed by a generally bemused, "Oh. You're gay. Huh." One of the girls who looked at the picture was like, "He's very hot," and I was like, "I know, right~~!" Kazu, looking shy like he usually isn't, muttered impossibly fast that I could have told him sooner.
After class Kazu and Misa hung around, as they've been prone to doing to time it so that they're leaving as I am. Misa'd written me a letter that she gave me and I (trying to recruit private students in anticipation of quitting) gave both of them my email address. After that Misa left, but Kazu didn't, and I couldn't leave just yet because the staff girl (who was very stressed out about other things to do with the school closing) hadn't finished writing up some of the salary/transportation paperwork that I had to sign. So to kill time, Kazu and I went to the convenience store to buy her chocolate and a chuuhai (kind of like a wine cooler, low alcohol content, comes in many fruity flavors), because it seemed like she needed it.
En route to the convenience store, basically as soon as we were out of earshot of the staff girl, Kazu told me that he was bi too. He has a girlfriend now (this I knew) but sometimes prefers guys. ("They're much more low-maintenance, aren't they?") In any case, after we got back and I'd gotten my paperwork signed and said goodbye to Nerima Nova forever, I turned to Kazu and asked if he wanted to get a drink. (I wasn't trying to cruise him or anything, he's just a smidgen outside my target age range, but he's fun, so.) He readily agreed and we went out for beer.
Four beers and lots of conversation later, he remarks that a female friend of his from elementary school actually ended up becoming a man. (Which put me in mind of the only time that the word "transsexual" has come up in class, when I was teaching the prefix trans- and Kazu volunteered that as an example.) So I'm thinking, What the hell, why not. It's not like I'm going to see him again, and it's obvious he's not going to flip out. So I pull out my driver's license and pass it to him, which is the same way I came out to Shinya and seems to be the best method I've found so far. He glances over it, glances at me, asks to confirm, "This is you?" and then is like, "Huh."
Then MY next question is, What clinic does your friend go to? Because I think some of you might be peripherally aware of this, but I've lost all faith in my doctor. He doesn't try to explain anything to me, just talks fast in Japanese and keeps pushing more and more (EXPENSIVE) medicine on me, making vague, threatening-sounding noises like, "If you don't take this you'll get cancer AND DIE!" or "you'll get kidney stones AND DIE!" or "you'll have a heart attack AND DIE!" Also, there's been some weird irregularity in the pricing of the medications he's been giving me, which I'm not sure how to explain in Japanese and it was likely that he'd just steamroll over me if I tried. When I protested to some of the medications before, he replied that if I wasn't taking the meds, he couldn't prescribe me with hormones -- which is sort of a K.O. argument. So yeah, I was in the market for a new clinic.
So Kazu gave me the clinic's card, which he had in his wallet. (There are relatively few large hospitals in Japan, but lots of small clinics, and if you're going to be going regularly they give you a card with your name on it, so when you come in all you need to do is hand your card to the nurse at the desk and they'll pull up what you're there for.) And then, while I was copying down the information, he says very hesitantly, "Ah... to tell you the truth. It's not my friend -- it's me."
Tru fax. And I wasn't all that surprised (not least because the "my FRIEND..." gambit is the oldest one in the book) -- I can't remember what made me think it before, but the thought had crossed my mind "I wonder if Kazu might be... nah." I wasn't seriously expecting it, just because the odds were so low, and also because he doesn't look like an FTM at all. Very scruffy, looks kind of like a hobo. So anyway, of course after that we were swapping stories about our experiences with the trannie thing. He's been on hormones for ten years, has gotten both top and bottom surgery (he glanced around the mostly-empty izakaya and then lifted his shirt briefly to show me), and yeah, generally passes so well that his girlfriend doesn't even know. I told him about the trouble I'd been having with my clinic, and he said, "Ikecen? Yeah, that one's expensive." Then he offered to introduce me to his clinic when he went in for his next shot, which we did last Wednesday.
The new doctor can speak quite good English -- he did a blood test to check my cholesterol levels, the results of which I got yesterday: not high! The other doctor is, indeed, a rip-you-off scumbag. Next Monday I'll be getting my first shot at the new clinic, and it's going to cost exactly the same as the other clinic (2650y), but that's all I'll be paying. At the Ikebukuro clinic, I haven't been paying for just a shot since about three months after I started. It's always shot + cholesterol meds, or shot + uric acid meds, or shot + more shot when he said my T levels had dropped. It had gotten to the point where I was having to pay close to $100 every two weeks for all the random crap he made me take. This will be a great weight off my pocketbook, which is good because I'm soon going to be blissfully unemployed.
So yeah -- net result, I made a friend.
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