Over time…

The following is a draft I wrote in November of 2009. I never posted it because I was planning on writing more.. and then I just never got around to it. This is as far as I got:

I am soon coming up on my six month mark of being in Japan. I’ve done a lot of things since I’ve been here: traveled across half the country, been in a major earthquake, been in a major typhoon, moved apartments, had a bike/car accident, ended my engagement, met someone else, broke up with them, got harassed by them, went to Disneyland, went to a hot spring, rode the bullet train, stayed in a capsule hotel, ate raw chicken (as sashimi), got my first gray hair… it’s been a whirlwind experience. Sometimes I get lost on trains and can’t get back on track–no pun intended–for at least another 2 hours. That can be extremely frustrating when you can’t read or speak the language. Sometimes I buy a pastry at the bakery thinking it would make a nice dessert and it turns out to be savory. Sometimes I buy a shirt that’s a size L and it turns out to be like a size S. These instances usually make me smirk a little because that’s the experience of a gaijin living in Japan. These are the things that will make me strut though life not letting the petty stuff bother me.

I just got my ticket yesterday to go back home to California and I’m looking forward to going home.

I’ve been in London for 10 months now. My time here is almost up (I leave in September). I felt so proud of myself for living in Japan and going through everything that I did. I’m still proud of it, but I have to say I haven’t exactly been “strutting” through life since then. Coming to England gave me a different type of culture shock I wasn’t expecting. I’ve already written about this in an earlier entry. It’s been about 6 months since my last entry and I’ve only come to find that I am becoming more and more set in my ways. The good news is that I mostly realize it. Stress has been building up with my coursework and when I do catch a break, I let loose completely. But now I am trying to find that happy balance between working and playing. I’m beginning to take my time with things. London, as with all major metropoli, is a fast-paced city. I’ve experienced this before. I am, as I was hoping I would before, toughening up. But I don’t necessarily like what I’ve toughened up into. So I’m stopping. Just because you live in a fast-paced city doesn’t mean you have to live a fast-paced life.

I’m currently working on my dissertation and, after that’s finished, I’m moving back to the United States. It’s time I came home. So, this blog probably won’t see another entry from me for a while. But when it does, we’ll see how I’ve changed again.

Differences

The days are winding down (20 more to go) to Japan and I have yet to pack my clothes. Heh.

However, I am doing my homework on the culture and (a little bit of) history of the Japanese people. I was directed to a blog written by another former Foreign Teacher from the same company that I will be working for (I am leaving out names for everyone’s protection), and I must say, I was very disappointed. What he wrote about his experience with this company was supposed to be the “truth” about what it’s like to work for them. Apparently he and the company had some disagreements. What disappointed me wasn’t so much the company but, rather, what he had to say. His blog was very informative, and I certainly got some useful tips out of it. But I was completely unimpressed with him. He complained about certain aspects of the Japanese world of business and, quite frankly, he should have known better. What he was so upset about was the way the Japanese handled situations. He didn’t like that he could not argue with his manager about something at a business meeting. He felt like he was being stifled and that he was not allowed to be “productive” via speaking his mind. He was also very taken aback by what he saw as passive aggressiveness in the Japanese.

Now, I don’t have to go to Japan to know that the Japanese highly prize group solidarity, especially within the business world. Just look at the way Japanese businessmen dress. See any bright colors? See anybody trying to stand out or beat the system? I don’t.

This blogger claims that he went to Japan to explore it and learn about another culture and yet he was kept from doing so because he had to work all the time. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, buddy! But more than that, he cheated himself out of the Japanese cultural education because it was happening to him the entire time he was there! Alas, he was too busy imposing his American standards of behavior on everyone he worked with to open up his mind and broaden his horizons.

I’m glad I read the blog, really, because it is a reminder to me that when I go to this brand new Eastern world, I should let myself be open to and understanding of the differences I know I will encounter. I may be going to to Japan to teach English conversation, but I’m not there to change the Japanese into Americans. I’ll do what I can to help them understand Americans and our nuances. But I won’t judge them for it if it doesn’t come naturally to them. This is a learning experience on both sides and I am happy to help create this bridge of communication.

Land of the Rising Sun

Well, I have some very exciting news:

I am moving to Japan to teach English for a year!

I was recently accepted for a position in Okazaki (Central Japan, near Nagoya) and I leave this coming June.  I know that this will be an extremely enlightening and exciting adventure because, besides the fact that I have never been anywhere in Asia, this will be such an inspiration to my writing.  My whole experience there will be one based on language.  The challenges of learning a new language, teaching a language to a new people whose language I don’t understand, and immersing myself within their culture is going to be an invaluable opportunity for me!

I plan to use this experience to grow as a person, of course, but also to make my blog grow.  I think I’ll be able to write some pretty interesting things once I get to Japan.  At the moment, I’m going through some books I got about Japan, the Japanese language, and the Japanese people.  Because of their long history of isolation, they have been able to preserve some of their oldest traditions and remain very unique in culture.  Unlike Western Europe and the United States, both of which have common backgrounds and melded histories, Japan is a singular entity and I expect to receive some major culture shock.  :)

Hooray!

Connectivity

Okay, okay, okay!  I know.  I’ve failed you and left you without anything to read for 4 (count ’em! 4) months.

I apologize.

In previous entry from yesterday, you’ll see a post I began writing two months ago and never finished.  The anxiety built up again and I put it off.  And then, I forgot about it.  So yesterday, when I oddly enough felt inspired to come over here and valiantly write a new entry, I was reminded of that poor little entry I wrote just 2 months ago.  I figured I should just publish what I had and then start with a new one.

So you know those memes we encounter online? Here’s a fun one that didn’t involve me spouting off information about myself in that oh so narcissistic way we all tend to do.  It’s called the Google Name Game.  Basically, google these and use the first entry.

1) Type in “[your name] needs” in Google search.
2) Type in “[your name] looks like” in Google search.
3) Type in “[your name] says” in Google search.
4) Type in “[your name] wants” in Google search.
5) Type in “[your name] does” in Google search.
6) Type in “[your name] hates” in Google search.
7) Type in “[your name] asks” in Google search.
8) Type in “[your name] likes ” in Google search.
9) Type in “[your name] eats ” in Google search.
10) Type in “[your name] wears ” in Google search.
11) Type in “[your name] was arrested for” in Google Search.
12) Type in “[your name] loves” in Google Search.

and here you go:

1. Emily needs a series of exemptions to Harvard’s administrative rules.
2. Emily looks like a very charming woman, with a natural beauty and a sparkling, unconstrained expression in her face.
3. Emily says that she and Richard are not getting back together.
4. Emily wants a pony, and she slings lemonade on the corner to get it.
5. Emily Does the Salmon Dance.
6. Emily Hates You 2.0
7. Emily asks Zander why he sold drugs.
8. Emily likes to wander the streets without much planning.
9. Emily Eats is proudly powered by WordPress.
10. Emily wears a cute outfit from Grandma while she plays in the house.
11. Emily was arrested for beating up a classmate!
12. Emily Loves Banana Custard!!

Funnily enough, about half of those are true.  I’ll let you guess which half.  The point of this meme, which I believe speaks volumes about society today, is that it’s a fun and interactive way of keeping up with each other without really keeping up with each other.  You know what I mean?  Allow me to explain:  Say one day you’re talking to a good friend and they mention someone from your past.  “Do you know Joe Schmoe?” they ask.  “Yeah I do.  Well, we’re friends on Facebook, anyway…” you start to trail off.  Joe, from your 7th grade science class, added you way back when and you have rarely, if ever, exchanged messages or comments.  But you’re friends on Facebook.

Every time this situation happens to me, I can’t help but stop and give myself a puzzled look, thinking, “How in the world did we come to this?”  I guess it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but back in the 1950s, for instance, did these acquaintances exist in such a way?  Maybe they did… “Yeah, I know Joe.  I’ve never talked to him, but we hang out at the same neighborhood bar.”

Maybe what I’m getting at here is the social phenomena of acquaintances and their interactions (or lack thereof).  What if you’re walking down the street or through the store and you see Facebook friend Joe Schmoe?  You’re not sure if he’s seen you yet, but if he does, what will you both do?  Will you smile and wave?  Will you walk up to each other and catch up on the past (or lack thereof)?  Or will you both pretend you didn’t see each other because you don’t want to get involved in what might otherwise be **cringe** an awkward situation?  But you are friends on Facebook.  And when you go home, you’ll look up Joe’s profile and find yourself clicking through every one of his photos and soon you’ll forget yourself and leave some kind of comment about one of his funnier photos.  And then the awkwardness sets in and you feel you should go ahead and leave a comment on his wall mentioning that you “thought” you saw him at the store today, but you “weren’t sure” if it was him. Hope he is well.

AAAAAGH!!!

I don’t know; maybe it’s just me.  (I did just find out recently that I have a high raw percentage of neuroticism, compared to most people).  Haha. Um.  Yeah, maybe that’s all it is.  But honestly, tell me you’ve never been in that situation before.

For a moment there I thought I was going somewhere with this post.  And then it all went to pot.  I could go back and edit the post and figure out what I meant to get at.. but I’d be here for hours… and I believe my readers are smart enough to figure it out for themselves.  Heh heh.. I do hope you got something out of it.

Oh well.  Hearts to you all for sticking around.  I’ll try to be better next time.

So we’re all blogging now, are we?

‘_’

That’s me.  That’s pretty much how I’m feeling about this first blog post.  And quite honestly, I’m usually not one to make various over-creative emoticons out of punctuation marks.  However, my good friend Heather is.  I told her I was going to begin a blog where I could flex my writing skills and give people something to reference me with (Thanks, Tantek).  So when I finally signed up for a blog, I realized.. um.. I had to make a first post.

And I have no idea what to write about.  Heather said to introduce myself and, somehow, without following any rhyme or reason (as per usual between us), we started making emoticons on gchat.  One of my personal favorites of hers is <(‘.'<) <( ‘  ‘ )> (>’.’)>

It’s cute.  Hehe.  But still, all I could come up with was  ‘_’  …which I think is rather appropriate anyhow.

So, here I am.  Fledgling writer that I am, I’m thinking that this blog will eventually form its own personality and, most likely, take off without me.  I believe that words control us more than we control them.  But, with a little coaxing, maybe we can strike a deal.  Words, if you’ll make me sound good, I’ll put in a good word for you too.  No pun intended.