I never thought in a million years that I would be living in Tokyo. The likely hood of a guy like myself living in the far east is the same as the Chicago Cubs winning the world series. In some twist of fate here I am living in Tokyo, Japan. I used to think that am not suppose to end up living on the other side of the planet. After careful thought I have realized that my life has always been leaning in the direction of Asia in some shape or form. When I look back on my life I can see how Asia has always been apart of my life. All the way back to the early days. Nick Ramsay from thelongcountdown.com recently tagged me in a post requesting to know more about me. I have had it on my mind to write a little tell-all about how I ended up living in Tokyo. Nick has finally inspired me to write this post. Well, here is my confession.
Born to Lose
I was born in West Virginia, USA. It is the poorest state in the union. I had the luck to be raised in McDowell County which is the poorest county in the poorest state in the union. Yes, I was born with two strikes against me. My father was a coal miner in a long line of coal mining, hard working, hard drinking men. My mother was the gentle native American type. My mother`s mother was full blood native American. This odd couple gave birth to me on January 5th 1980 deep in the mountains of West Virginia in a town called Welch. My parents loved Rock n` Roll which only fueled my rebellious nature from a very young age. My mother had Asian blood as my grandmother often said. My grandmother never really liked my mother and blamed my her for what she said was, `a very odd boy who spends too much time thinking and not enough time doing.`
Divorce Greasers and a Girl from Korea
As time went on tensions between the family factions lead to a lot of stress on my parents. This was made even worse when my dad had to stop working due to having an extra nerve on his heart. After going under the knife to `fix` his heart dad was never the same. This drinking and lack of a decent job lead to constant violence in the home. My mother finally had enough and packed her bags and left; taking my sister with her. So, dad and I were left on our own. Soon after my father and I started to refer to each other my our first names. We were no longer father and son. We were drinking buddies!
Due to the shock of dealing with divorce I became a misfit of sorts. I fell into a crowd of other teenage misfits and greaser types. I took an interest in playing football and building muscle cars. This is how I met a girl named Soon-Ei. She was from Korea and a greaser like myself. Her father`s company bought a controlling interest in a chemical factory in up-state West Virginia. Apparently, he hated his daughter and sent her to live with a redneck family in McDowell County while he attended to business in Charleston,WV. I first met her in shop class and we soon became hot and heavy for each other. This did not set well with most of the other kids in high school. I got labeled as the `weird kid who is sleeping with the yellow girl.` I did not care so much about what the others said because she was nice to me and a lot of fun to hang out with. Although, my relationship with her did get me into a lot of fights. A lot of guys in school liked to sexually harass her because she was very beautiful and not white. She took shop class with me and we build several kick-ass muscle cars together. We were even able to help show several rednecks in shop class the value of accepting people who look different. We got voted sexist couple at vocational school our senior year.
Sadly, after high school her father got transferred back to Korea so we parted ways. I lost contact with her. My relationship with her was my first taste of Asia(no pun intended). Little did I know it would not be my last.
College: Radio, Acid, and Japanese college girls
So off to college I went in the summer of 1999. My uncle bubba decided that the best thing for me was to go to college. Despite his name bubba is actually a real smart guy. He has a masters in Education and Engineering. He was always understanding of me and at times took me under his wing. He was the only person in my family who kind of let me be myself. He never gave me shit for anything. Well, he helped me though the process of getting accepted to Concord University. CU is a small university located in the mountain town of Athens, WV. My entire family was very proud of the fact I was actually going to college. I remember my grandmother saying, `Wow! The damn boy is actually doing something. Well, at least he is not in prison.`
When I first stepped foot on the grounds of CU I knew that I could never again live in McDowell County. College was my only way out of that redneck hell hole. They cursed me with a thick southern draw but they were not going to drag me under. I decided to major in journalism and minor in human personality. Seem like a perfect choice to me.
My friends in college were a few hippies, some metal heads, a crazy Russian and a gang of Japanese college girls. An odd bunch to run with but I have been odd my entire life. I had a few duties in college above and beyond attending class. I did the Friday night shift for the college radio station. I also earned a spot on the college news paper staff and later served as the A&E editor. These extra duties earned me a little attention on campus. It was weird but after a while I got used to people coming up to me and saying, `Are you the guy who does the radio on Friday night?`
Anyway, the hippies kept me pretty high in my free time. Hell, most of the time. It was hard to keep up with them. There was this one hippie guy named George Jones(just like the country singer). He had a thing for Asian religion and smoking lots of pot. I spent a lot of time with him in college and learned a lot from him.
It was also in college that I met the love of my life. Makiko Kono has been apart of my life since I was 19 years old. I met her while playing basketball during my first summer semester in college. Our story is way too long to tell here but lets just say that we have been connected at the hip from the time me met. The only reason I met her was because of this crazy as hell Harajuku gal attending Concord. She was the first person I met in college. I ended up usually having a gang of Japanese gals hanging around me way too often. I guess they took a liking to me because I was nice to them and helped them out whenever I could. You can image the oddness of being Japanese and attending college in West Virginia. My first apartment was with MK and a friend of hers. They really got me interested in Japanese culture. I think that was the jumping point which has led me to living in Tokyo today.
It is also worth noting that during my college years I experimented with LSD. I learned a lot form Acid. It really opened up my mind to new ways of thinking. I have my tales about tripping on LSD but I will not share them here. If you want to hear a few good Acid stories from me you are just going to have to meet me in person.
OK Things have Gotten Out of Control; Bye Bye America Hello Japan
For a few years after college I really did not know what to do with myself. I spent about a third of my time traveling to Japan to see MK. During these years I watched American turn into a real shit place to live. Don`t get me wrong I love my country but the damn government is acting like a pack of boot licking Nazi`s. With the Empire going insane and people behaving really weird I was finally fed up. On a winter trip to see MK we finally decided to get married. This was not an easy choice for me. I left everything and everyone I knew behind forever to come and live with MK in Tokyo.
So, here I am in Tokyo Japan. My southern ass is living in a place with has been calling my name long before I could hear its screams. I guess it will be many years before I return to America. I like it here overall. It is always interesting.
Ok Nick, and rest of the world, now you know a little bit more about me and how I ended up living in Japan. Maybe a few more people will understand me a little better. Although there will be those who will use this post as fuel for attacking me. I will just have to laugh at the assholes and thank those who find my willingness to share my little story interesting.