Two weeks ago I went to Gunma prefecture to present my manuscript about critical composition pedagogy and the power of “no”, the first time to present this manuscript to an audience. I like the term “audience” because to my surprise, about half of the presentation turned out to be a performance (but really, aren’t they all?).
What I didn’t expect while discussing the power of “no” was that there would be an angel present who would say “yes”.
Having never met Michele before, there was a great space of unfamiliarity to cross. During the lunch that preceded the presentation, we got to know each other better and by the end of the day a warmth emanated from her gaze. During lunch I had mentioned Barbara Summerhawk’s collection of stories, Queer Japan, and to my surprise, Michele explained that she actually knew Barbara and would introduce my work to her.
A week later I met Michele again, this time at the JALT/JACET conference, and again she would be my audience for yet another performance – who knew I could get up in a bar to sing Gershwin’s Summertime to a small crowd of my peers?
And a day later, Michele is my audience again, and this time there is no unfamiliar space, only support, encouragement, and requests for clarification. It seems as if I have made a friend merely by being myself and being present. Throughout the following days, I would receive no less than 3 emails from Michele introducing me to various individuals who might offer their support, the most surprising name amongst the group being Jane Joritz-Nakagawa, a writer whom I had tried to contact in fall of 2007 but to no avail (see GayIdentity).
In one of my emails to Michele, I called her “my angel” because to me, an angel is a guardian, a guide, or an instigator, a presence overseeing connections and offering comfort or support. This term is only metaphorical, for I don’t know that I actually believe in such phenomena, but if ever there was an angel overseeing my progress in Japan, surely Michele is boku no tenjin, desho?!