So this story probably starts with an apology to my sister wrapped in the worlds biggest thank you … or maybe its the other way around. Either way I was Kitty of Chaos.
Sorry and thank you Jennifer.
Why am I sharing this story? Well honestly, I want you to get to know me, I want to share the of the darker parts of my life before Yoga, Who was kit cat before? Where has she come from, What did she do? I am sharing so that you have evidence that creating your life by design is totally possible!!! and I am living proof it is. Honestly, if you are gonna entrust your transformation to someone you want to know that they have done the yards & made the shifts that you long to make and can support you along the way.
This is just one of my stories.
I lived in Japan, how did you get there you might ask?? Ok so here we go.
Back in the olden days, before phones had cameras and were not very smart, Surry Hills, Sydney Australia just 10 minutes for world famous Bondi Beach was and still is a super convenient place to live. Especially when you work in the city of Sydney and you haver a rule about not living more than 5 minutes from where you work… As an aside this is why I am better working for myself, my lap top is generally within a 5 metre radius never mind 5 minutes. I digress. Mostly because this story is like a dive into my personal archive aka my past and I am slightly nervous.
Surry Hills is also super convenient if you have a penchant for late nights in cool clubs followed by day clubs, leading to lost weekends, leaving aforementioned cool club only just in time to shower & make it to the office before roll call, wondering if leaving your sunglasses on all day is doable. Probs not kitty of chaos.
It was a super (super fucking fun) fun time, ups and downs, seemingly zero responsibility, except to pay the rent & make sure you had sufficient weekend funding to ensure a really good time in your minuscule lycra outfits for shimming round the dance floor, legs long & tanned, abs tight. I worked out to look good in my weekend sequinned ensembles. Our girl gang was chi chi fabulous, never did cues, names on the guest list city cool. We lived for the weekends, getting ready to go out with the girls was as fun as being out, but being out meant boys. Thanks to our way smarter phones we still keep in touch sending each other random messages and lines from songs, we are still those giggly girls some where within our adulty outsides.
Planning for the weekend started Thursday nights with late night shopping visits to the local purveyors of good time candy, with questions like how would you like your night to go “happy dance flirty then chill” or “crazy sexy dancer” then there was anything & everything in-between.
Living for the weekend was a way of life, it had become my sole existence, that I fitted work around and not every thing was pretty. There was some pretty ugly stuff along the way, drugs just allowed you to wear rose coloured glasses that made it look pretty. I dread to think what the environments looked like in the aftermath of a weekend without several layers rose coloured glasses. One time, I was soo cool, I didn’t even bother getting dressed I went out in my flannelette pyjamas my Vans(runners) and a fox fur coat. I was still cool, probably not sober but in my 26 year old opinion, pretty cool. You had to have thick skin, swagger by the bus load & swift side eye.
Somewhere inside I realised I needed out, that this was not what my life should look like that there was something else bigger. It sounds cliched, but I knew that I was meant for something more? wasn’t I?? I hated my job & the “Corporate Bitch Barbie” I worked for, I shit you not she made us wear a particular shade of red lipstick before we went to meetings stocking and heels were mandatory, turn up sans tights and you were sent to the chemist downstairs to pay a Sydney City premium for new pair, I learned to keep a stash in my desk.
Some how I got wind of a show, a 12 month dance contract, I wagged work and auditioned for the troupe, got in, it was my out. On the day of my gleeful resignation I waved those stockings over my head, handed my lipstick to the newbie in my post resignation departure strut of happiness. We were scheduled to go to Greece for a 12 month contract leaving in 2 months.
One month into our rehearsals, I was summoned to the office where the contractor asked me If I wanted to go to Japan? He had a random request from a client, a new hotel required a skilled hospitality professional to run a restaurant, proof read menus & check the western menu offerings in a town named Imabari on the Island of Shikoku. “You would leave in 10 days…. can you do it?” he says…. “I have seen your resume, it was attached to your dance card & head shot” Japan?? No dancing? I was totally prepared for feather boas, vending machines, Hiroshima & canal turtles not so much. Some how it was agreed and Japan it was. An expedited work visa gifted after a visit to the Japanese Consulate General where he asked 3 times via a translator am I going to work as a hostess in a club?? If you work as a Hostess in a club you will be deported. Never crossed my mind. I was going to be a part of a management team of a new hotel.
There were some pretty big pre departure parties, even by our standards, I was gonna be gone for up to 12 months. A friend was moving into my apartment, some how I coerced my sister into pay my bills while I was away which meant me signing bulk of blank cheques & handing them over … Now your saying oh that sounds risky……(insert eyebrow raise)
What was risky was the fact that on the day of my departure I had been out for 3 days straight, wasn’t packed & was due at the airport in like 30 minutes…. between my cheque signing & my sisters angry eyes alongside her parenting my kitty of chaos, people continued the weekends shenanigans dancing, singing, drinking to name a few things in my studio appartment. Some how my sister herded me to the airport where on arrival we were greeted by some fun friends from my 3 day bender. My sister was the one that heard them page me to board my flight, while I was staring at some McDonalds hotcakes wondering if they could just magically bypass my oesophagus & land in my stomach. I have no doubt that my sister both (unconditionally??) loved and very much hated my guts simultaneously at this point. I didn’t make the next year any easier for her.
Some how, white girl wasted, I board the plane as the late, irreverent then unexpectedly perfect passenger – that is to say I slept the whole way to Osaka. I was going to what I had affectionately & jokingly named my Japanese Betty Ford Clinic and I was turning up sober, totally paranoid, tired & sober.
Couldn’t tell you half the details of that trip but, I was met at the airport in Osaka by my contact that would take me by Shinkansen (fast train) to the hotel, she mentioned that I didn’t look so well and offered me some paracetamol which I accepted, so as not to raise suspicion then I promptly shoved those killer paracetamol down the side of the train seat, no way I was taking drugs off a stranger in a foreign country, the irony, the paranoia but oh the irony.
Eventually after very speedy ride on my first ever ride on the Shinkansen, which I pretty much missed in a haze of paranoia versus panic as the reality dawned I was gonna be living in Japan like a nun for a year, a drug & alcohol free nun with none. I didn’t even speak a scrap of Japanese, seriously I had 10 days I could have osmosed something.
I was greeted at the hotel but not welcomed. I would discover over the course of this contract that I was infact not very welcome. I was the hotel guest who ran the nightly beer garden buffet, corrected their menu writing & plating skills. The chefs would claim that they had American or French training, insinuating that they had studied in America & France. However with my invasive deeper lines of questioning, which was just my naive enthusiasm, whereby I was hoping build a connection, maybe even a friendship with my fellow chef buddies eventually uncovered they had never actually left the country the American & French chefs had come to them. Face lost. Friends zero
I lived in the western accomodation on the 7th floor of the hotel, there was japanese accomodation but I was not allowed in it. I did sneak in one time with a friendly housekeeper, it was minimalist, tatami and beautiful. I worked 6 days per week & had Mondays off. Once a month I got a whole weekend off, so I could escape. I bought a bicycle so that I could get around it was khaki and looked like every other bike in town, so I wrapped a bandanna around the handle bars in the hope I would be tell it apart form the seven hundred and fifty thousand others rolling around town. It had a bike basket up front so often I would pack some rice from the staff cafeteria in my Hello Kitty lunch box, with soy sauce & my newly formed relationship with Kewpie mayonnaise and ride as far away as my legs could peddle me.
There was a gym in the hotel, I used it daily… Step Rebok-ing to my walkman every day, by all accounts I had been a pretty good Aerobics Instructor for about 6 years so I new the drills. There was also a 25 meter pool so I taught myself to swim & tumble turn… I had never learned these skills and self teaching them does not an Olympic athlete make, so no, I am still not great at this. My Betty Ford Clinic was going well, I was my own therapist – Just keep busy.
We – the hotel had a traditional Onsen which I was allowed to use as a guest of the hotel yet another reason for my colleagues to dislike me. The Onsen consisted of a pool, cold plunge pool, sauna, indoor hot pool & outdoor hot pool. You were required to bathe, sitting on little “rice stool” before wading gracefully into the onsen of your choice, every one was naked, body shaming was not a thing unless you were the only white girl in the whole town. God how I wanted to wear a bikini at least – but that probably would have been worse.
One time I was in the outdoor onsen the only time I managed to be by myself and there was an 5.7 magnitude earthquake!!!! I had never been in an earth quake & quickly found myself in a rock pool tsunami. The building was swaying I had no idea what I should do, I froze and prayed that I wouldn’t be the headline “Gaijin naked, dead in Onsen” Gaijin directly translates to “outside person” so apt. My wish was granted & I escaped the Onsen of death A few days later my dad rang the hotel & they hunted me down in the gym, crying telling me Lady Diana was dead. I was so disconnected so removed from the world, like I was in a weird Japanese hotel bubble.
There was no internet, no mobile phones, no english books, no friends. I joined a cooking class not associated to the hotel & roamed around on my bike seeing the sights like natural onsens in the glorious mountain side, vending machines serving hot chips & lasagna in the middle of croaking frog filled rice paddies that were mysteriously powered. I ate the fresh hot french fries, they were good. I rode to a natural underground sauna it was a stinksville hot under ground cave if the onsen tsunami freaked me out, the claustrophobia I experienced in there was beyond & I didn’t have the mental tenacity or tools to stick it out.
I would ride my bike around to the Shikoku Henro which is one of the few circular-shaped pilgrimages in the world. It is 88 ‘official’ temples and other sacred sites where the Buddhist priest Kūkai or Kōbō Daishi is believed to have trained or have spent time during the 9th Century. One time I was paused admiring one of these sites & I thought to myself gee there are a lot of men in khaki trousers peeing in the bushes today…. As it turns out it was one guy following me around stopping every where I stopped & jerking off in the bushes as I went about my naive tourist business. I rode back to the safety of my four walls in the hotel & had a shower. I avoided all temples for a while.
Writing letters was another favourite way to soak up seconds get some sun away from the hotel AC. I often packed my bike with a rice soy & mayo picnic & headed to the coastline where you could see whirlpools of water in the unswimable seas. Thinking I would be sitting in peace my wistful sigh in the silence would be cut short by the approach of a local keen to get to know the only white girl in town , buy her mandarin Fanta or at least have sex with her or show her their dick. Delightful right, how lucky am I?. After the third time (different guys) I stopped going to the beach too. Its not like I was seductively on show either, I was baggy tshirt & chambray trousers. Was I safe no where?
Back to the hotel room I would go…. I had a sewing kit so I set myself a couple of tasks… I made a dress out of a bed sheet. I cut the sheet up with those sewing kit scissors & hand stiched that dress I couldn’t believe it only took a week(I was hoping it would take longer), it had detail!! pin tucking in the front and a ties at the back to create some definition at the waist – I still have it in storage. I made a terry towling hat out of a bath towel & sewed the hotel logo from that towel into the inside & a tea towel to the underside so that it had some contrasting colour. I replaced the lining on the inside of my Benetton back pack with one of my hotel work shirts, It still makes me laugh when I use that bag today, gawd that shirt was ugly. I had a hotel kimono it stayed intact surviving “scissor-nado”
I wrote my sister & requested Garnier Blonding Cream for my hair & Darrall Lea chocolate bars for my heart. She told me she sold my car or maybe it was repossessed I can’t remember & needed money to pay for the lease on my apartment as the person that was living in there didn’t pay the rent…. Jennifer was far from happy probably wanted to kill me for selecting her to be lumped with project clean up kitty, but she was never-endingly angrily supportive.
I am not sure that I was grateful or appreciative enough of her persistence at sorting out the dirty washing mixed with the clean washing pile of the kitty of chaos. I had just got up & run away, knowing somewhere I had to save myself, the only way I knew how back then…by cutting people off, dissociation & disconnection. Its work that has taken years of unravelling, but in my coaching I see it often….its not an uncommon coping mechanism. Then we become scared & reluctant to rebuild relationships because we have just rediscovered our sobriety, sanity, health, wellness and can feel a sense of wholeness returning.
The beer garden buffet was on the twenty third floor of the hotel the spectacular view out to the sea & over to the mountains past the rice paddies combined with all you can eat avocado maki and cold soba(yum!!). This was the he upside of serving Japanese men until they were too drunk to walk & you had to carry them to the elevator a rapacious slippery slope from “Campai” to pass out. Man, I dreamed some stuff up there as a form of escapism.
Dream 1… Imagine if on that island on the roof of that white building was a spa & I could sit in that spa during sunset & enjoy a drink & read a book looking back at this hotel for a change. I caught a boat to that island ate Tempura Domburi in its downstairs restaurant restaurant took the stairs 4 flights to the roof top where there WAS as spa I got in it!! A radio station was broadcasting from there & I was interviewed by the radio DJ they comped me drinks & we all watched the sunset together!
Dream 2….There are soooo many islands. Imagine if someone hired an island & we all went there & had a massive party. Two weeks later an invitation to one such party arrives. I take the weekend off, 500 people descend on the uninhabited white sand island there are coconuts, jet skis, vodka, beers and a BBQ and also a man with a pet iguana on his shoulder, DJ’s pumping the jam its a massive freekin party. I was scared & quiet I wanted to be social but didn’t want to dive into a pool I had just pulled myself out of.
Dream 3… OMG I missed the train. Not such a great one because I did indeed miss the train by a matter of minutes from Metsuyama to Imabari and had to sleep on a park bench under a newspaper as the next train was not until 5.50am. It was 8pm, that sucked.
As you can imagine being the only Gaijin in town I was in my own world, working 7 days really doesn’t give you much place to formulate friendships outside of work & I certainly wasn’t winning any friends in the work place. Because I was in Imabari more than 1 month I had to go to the local council office and complete an “Alien Registration” by this stage Betty Ford probably would have had me in therapy, I walked into that office pretended my fingers were antennas popping out of my head & in an alien/ Conehead the Barbarian kinda voice asked someone at a big desk to “take me to your leader” Thankfully I didn’t have to go back to that office again.
There were the usual things in Japan the level of weirdness that is the vending machine is a constant source of entertainment and wonderment from Asahi Kegs to underwear, the latest in electronics & in the vending machine next to that the batteries to power your vended device. I wasn’t a massive drinker so I didn’t really desire to get wasted like the Japanese that I served in the restaurant frequently did. But I did bust out some Madonna in the karaoke bars around town. Never a late night out but always fun, no one knew me, I didn’t care what they thought, I was just singing busting out some Madonna dance moves and that was super fun I was a star in the bar lol. In the hallway outside the buffet the wooden floors made an excellent space for choreographing a dance routine to any song from the Aqua- Aquarium album which was famous at that time for “Im a Barbie Girl” which was on loop in the bar come buffet not always by choice.
I have so many memories of my time in Japan, some laugh out loud & some tearful some just head shaking.
A visit to Hiroshima – that should be compulsory to see how nuclear war devistates.
Sashimi Pizza – yes conceptually Italian pizza with raw fish on it (cultural appropriation??? see my last blog)
Riding motorised fake animals in a car park surrounded by seemingly ancient swaying bamboo
Shopping in Osaka
Visiting ancient temples & Onsens
The beauty of the country side, the traditions the ceremonies, Seeing IRL Geisha girls for the first time.
The pet shops, the pets in small cages, tiny turtles & huge cockroaches & other random unidentifiable animals that I would have googled if Google was a thing
The time when I met another white guy teaching English & he squirted himself with the hi tech Japanese toilet bidet in the bathroom (still makes me laugh to this day)
The hotels enormous Japanese hand made crockery collection
The singing toilets in the hotel lobby with the heated toilet seats
The shopping, Japanese food, Hello Kitty, Japanese food, temples onsens, cherry blossoms, Japanese food
This story is a series of stories that could go for ever, it could probably be its own book.
I was ready to go home, I was in Osaka staying in a Japanese hotel where I couldn’t even stand up lol & you had to us the communal bath house downstairs as rooms had no showers (but you did have a fridge with a tiny TV on top & a sink to brush your teeth) I was offered another job & was ready to accept the offer & stay on my way back to the hotel, I was trying to buy a couple of glitter Hello Kitty mini disks. I had just made my way out of Osaka /Umeda Stations the epic underground & was standing on the pedestrian island in the middle of the traffic.A man walks up to me and asks
man: “Are you an English Teacher?”
Kitty “kekko desu” – no I reply & smile
man: “Would you like to go on a date?”
kitty “Kekko desu” awkwardly I look away
man: “Ok just sex then”
kitty: “what the fuck is wrong with you?”
Its time to go, I turn down another year with a new teaching gig to return home, I have been away long enough to get some of my shit together but not all of it, I need to face the symphony that will be my sister. Get a job & do a bit of adulting. I know that I don’t want to work for anyone else but I don’t feel like I have a choice. I can feel the pressure of the same patterns coming back to haunt me. I am nervous & shaky.
I return home, my finances are a mess, to be clear its my fault not my sisters, she has acted out of kindness doing the best she could with the shit I left her in. Kitty of Chaos.
I meet up with my friends, we go out I missed “the scene”, I missed my friends but I have changed , the scene has not… its grimier than I remember. I stay away, and entertain thoughts like I am gonna have a baby or get a dog. I express this to my sister who says “shit you can barely look after yourself” we laugh, she says off handedly “get a dog” I was happy at least back in rehearsals for the next 12 month contract to Greece
A month later I called to let her know that I was having a baby.
Thats another story indeed.
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