Goodbye (Week XXX)

Goodbye, Lisa

Hello to you all! This is my 30th entry and it also marks seven full months in Japan. This calls for a celebration! As such, I am declaring today “lurker-exposure day”. If you’ve been reading my blogs at all, I ask you to leave a comment just to say “hi.” I would love to hear from you, even if we’ve never met.


I have an amusing anecdote from work this week. It was a frantic Friday and I had just dismissed a full class. Sari San snagged me in the teacher’s room and asked me to say hello to a prospective student. I was too happy to oblige her and put down my things. I knocked on the door to the interview room and stepped in. Pointing at my name tag I said, “Hello, my name is…” she cut me off, “-Alex.” I thought to myself, “okay, well she can at least read English.” “Yes. Actually it’s Alexander, but you can call me Alex.” She sensed my smart-aleck tone and laughed.

“You look different,” she said to me.

That’s an odd thing to say. I returned with a natural question, “Oh, I’m sorry, have we met before?”

“No. I saw your picture on the school website. I think you’ve lost weight, Alex. Are you dieting?”

I was bewildered. I’ve never had my online presence precede me like that before. It was rather off-putting. I decided I would give her, her first English lesson; never lead off an introduction referring to your internet stalking of them. But my mind quickly changed gears. She said I had lost weight. How flattering.

“Nope, no diet. Just exercise and conscious eating.”

Our conversation continued for a few more minutes before I excused myself to teach a class. I spent the next class partially distracted. I was again thinking about her comment, “I saw your picture on the website.” A very strange thing to say in person. And I couldn’t help but have the feeling that she had been coming on to me. Strange indeed. The day then ended no sooner than it had started and I went home.

I did receive some news this week. I am going to be moving soon. In 18 days to be exact. The lease on my apartment is expiring and my employers have decided not to renew. Rather they have found a new apartment for me. I am both excited and dreading this move. Let me explain why.

First, I am moving. Packing and unpacking is a total pain. I will be moving to a city one stop away on my local train line. My biggest issue with the new location is the train itself. My current local station is wonderful. Every kind of train stops in the Ono. So no matter which direction I am coming from, I am guaranteed a stop here. The new city, OdakyuSagamihara, is only accessible by local line. This means I will have to transfer at the Ono every time I want to go to Tokyo. It’s not terrible, but it is certainly an inconvenience.

Additionally, I HATE the idea of living in a city named after a business. In this case, Odakyu. Odakyu is the train line that runs through Sagamihara. So the city was named after the train line. This is wholly unoriginal and disgustingly corporate. Shameful.

Now for the good news! While I haven’t seen my new place yet, this is what I have been told: it’s much closer to the station, it’s on the 7th and top floor, it’s nicer & it’s cheaper. My walk from the station should decrease from 20 minutes to 5 minutes. I will finally have sunlight in my apartment, and assumedly a decent view. It’s a newer building. Because only local trains service the station, it’s cheaper. All together the pros do outweigh the cons. So I’ll suck it up and make the best of it.


My busy week rolled right into the weekend. I woke up Sunday morning tuckered out from a late night with my buddy, Trevor. I went through the morning routine and left my place in a tie and suit. Earlier in the month I had picked up a Sunday Open so my coworker, Emma, could enjoy her birthday weekend. I had taught four classes in five hours as the clock struck 5pm. I grabbed my bag and ran to the train. Next stop; Ebisu.

I met with a lady for dinner. The same lady as last time actually. I was unsure what to expect as she had invited two friends along. In her email, she mentioned two female names. So I thought our dinner was going to be very informal. Rather I was greeted by two women and a man. Turns out one of the names was unisex and suddenly I found myself on a double date. My spirits quickly lifted and we set out for an izakaya. Dinner was lovely; great food and engaging conversation. However I soon was forced to part with my friends and return to the station. The heavy downpour of rain couldn’t keep my spirit down. We bid goodbye. Next stop; Shibuya.

I was to meet my Training Girls and others in Shibuya for dinner. Normally a wonderful gathering was soured by the occasion; Lisa was prematurely leaving the country. She had finished her last day of teaching and was hopping on a plane back to New York the next day. Lauren, Elisha & myself saw to see her off right. A handful of other people had come out for the party, including my first Japanese friend, who I had not seen since January, Take! Even for such a sorrowful occasion, I knew it was going to be a great time with Take!

We left the station and visited a burger joint. Lauren’s friend works at the restaurant and hooked us up with plenty of seating and a group rate. Dinner was followed by a cake and group photos. The end of the ending approached and we walked back to the stations. At the entrance to the subways we gave our goodbyes. It was an especially emotional moment for the girls and I. We have been together through a lot and share a strong connection. It has been mentioned before that if we were all living in the States we likely wouldn’t have become friends. But given the circumstances we’ve rallied together and have become very tight. Lisa was leaving behind a lot. She was leaving Lauren, Elisha & I. And she has left a hole that we cannot fill.

I hugged Lisa goodbye and waved so long to the girls. I turned my back and headed for my own train. The rain continued to fall and my good mood had been sullied by Lisa’s leaving. This sadness was soon made better by the stupidity I encountered at the trains. Man, woman and child had forced themselves onto a crowded train. I strolled down the cars and found my opening. I dropped my shoulder and pushed inside the car, “sumimasen.” The doors closed behind me and we were off.

-Goodbye Nebraska-

Since this my 30th blog and a nice round number, I would like to write about something other than culture. So I will use this opportunity to announce what so many of you have long suspected; I am done with Nebraska. I am not moving back.

This decision should be neither new nor shocking. I have long suspected that if I left Lincoln I wouldn’t return. Nebraska, and Lincoln specifically is a wonderful place. I have only the nicest things to say about it. It was wonderful to me and a great place to grow up. Unfortunately what I want to do with my life cannot be accomplished in Nebraska. I need to find somewhere else.

This declaration doesn’t mean that I have decided to stay in Japan. It also doesn’t mean I’ve ruled Japan out. I haven’t a clue where I’ll be in two or three years. I am too young and too clueless to see much past the end of my nose. I will of course continue to honor my employers and uphold all of my commitments.

So the question becomes; Where will I go? Some current ideas include: Rio de Janeiro, Montreal, London, New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis. Any suggestions? I feel like I have one big adventure left in me before I really want to settle down with a family.

Obviously there is still much uncertainty in my life, which is thrilling. Let me tell you what I do know for sure. Sometime in the next few years I’ll swing through Lincoln for a long week. I’ll make the rounds and see everyone. Then I’m going to hop back on a plane and start the next chapter somewhere else. Of course you’re welcome to visit anytime.

That’s all for the 30th entry. I commend you if you’ve made it this far! The Good Lord knows I can be verbose. Many thanks for keeping up with my writings. I do encourage you to give a quick “hello” in the box below. Tell me your name and area. I would love to hear from friends and new people alike. Thanks!



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About japanesealex

Alexander lived in Japan from 2010 to 2013. He is now pursuing a career in public service in Honolulu, Hawaii.

21 responses to “Goodbye (Week XXX)”

  1. Kelsey (Richard) says :

    Ok, I’m a lurker. You’re an inspiration to the rest of us who plan to leave Nebraska for good. I vote Boston or London!

  2. Randy says :

    OK, Alex–you called me out! I’ve been lurking. In fact, I haven’t missed an entry!

    I’m glad that things have turned out so well and that you have shared your adventure with everyone. I, for one, have enjoyed them. I think you could easily turn your blogs into a book on the experience of teaching english in Japan.

    As for where to go next in your journey, you might want to also consider Sydney, Australia!

    All the best.


  3. Claudia says :

    Try for someplace warm:) Love you!!!!

  4. Aaron Ball says :

    Of those cities Montreal, NYC, Chicago, and Boston would be my first choices (in that order). I’d like to take a vacation to all of those places someday so a visit would be in order

  5. Verena Mertz says :

    keep up the excellent writing. I really enjoy your blog – and many of your ponderings about life in general and your experiences abroad remind me of myself sometimes.
    I am usually not very good at following blogs, but I have read it all. It’s interesting to read about your life after so many years that we haven’t seen each other (how is that for “creepy internet stalking”?? :-p). I’d like to meet you again someday and given the fact that you seem to want to keep traveling, it might actually happen. 🙂 Even though I won’t find you in Lincoln on my next visit there…
    As for suggestions to go places:
    #1: Brasil (be it Rio or Sao Paulo): you should give it a shot. The Brazilian culture has forever changed my life, my view on everything. They are very easy-going, but hard-working. The people I met in SP never give up, always smile, no matter how hard they have it. For many people in Germany (and also in the US), the focus has long shifted to jobs and money. In Brazil, I became aware again of what’s really important: people. I met people who had lost everything: property, belongings, their parents… and yet, their positive attitude is contagious. Their motto really is that everything is easier with a smile. Also, the language is beautiful!
    #2: London. The city is amazing: fast-paced, cultured, artsy, international, … but also very (!) expensive.
    #3: Berlin. I’d like to suggest Berlin because is a little like New York, London, and Lincoln combined. I know, sounds odd – but it is. It is homely and cozy, very green for a major city. There is a lot of history, arts, etc. Berlin is overly versatile – and you can live there really well for little money. Additionally for the city being stunning, its surrounding area is also beautiful and inviting.

    Questions on any of the above? Shoot me an email. 🙂
    But for now, all the best and a hug for you!

    I have ten days left in the US. Strange how yet another year abroad came to such a sudden end. I know it – I’ve been there – but I’m still surprised.
    It seems to me like you’re enjoying every minute of your stay in Japan. Keep up the good posts and spirit!

  6. Thrasher says :


    I stalk occasionally, though not too terribly often.

    I hear you about Nebraska. As much as I love the people that I’ve left behind, I can easily say that my career can’t be found in Nebraska; well it can, but for considerably less income. Nebraska is slow paced and once you’ve experienced significant time outside of it, it’s hard to go back.

    -Avery Thrasher

  7. Kim says :

    What are you wanting to do in other cities/countries?

  8. kellee says :

    2nd to last paragraph “let me tell you what I do KNOW for sure”.

    Consider yourself lurked. 23 Days until I get to see youuuuuu! 🙂

  9. Michi says :

    Hey mate,
    I’ve been keeping an eye on your adventures for a while. At first, I was trying to get some insight on life in Japan. I think you prepared me to be as optimistic as possible, so Thank you! Now I’m here, it pays to have an open mind, but I knew I loved so many things about Japan before I arrived.

    Thanks for the stories, and your uplifting attitude.


  10. Libby says :

    I have been a lurky lurker. I look forward to your posts every week. That’s exciting news about the not-moving-back. I am going to be living in Minneapolis for 8 weeks this fall, so I’ll let you know how that goes. I always love visiting Minneapolis and New York. Good luck with your decision, can’t wait to hear what you decide!

  11. Lene says :

    WOW! Alex………..I’ve seen a lot of growing up while you have been in Japan. I think where ever you chose to go, you will bring happiness and fun to all those who befriend you. The world needs more positive people like you. You always make lemonade out of lemons. Maybe you should go to Washington DC! God Bless you!

  12. aball2 says :

    just as long as you meet Michael someday! Of those cities I’ve only ever been to Minneapolis and Chicago, but I LOVED Chicago, I could definitely live there someday.

  13. Kimmie Sue says :

    Your blog is a fun respite- thank you! The NE Book Co. gals and I miss you and your crazy self. Keep in touch even if you don’t move back here. I’m so proud to know you, and proud of you for following your dreams even when you don’t fully realize them yet.

  14. Patty Brennan says :

    I am married to Brian Brennan your Mom’s cousin.
    I have really enjoyed reading about your adventures! Brian and I share them with our kids and they think it is great!
    We missed you in Brookfield, your Brother and sister entertained our young ones!!
    After a weekend in Brookfield, I long for the city life here in St. Louis.
    If you can take the weather, I recommend Boston, I loved it there!!

    Keep writing, you have a gift!


  15. Key says :

    I’m so proud of you and delighted to hear of each weeks adventures. Wish you could be here for the wedding but we’ll lift a glass for you. Keep following your dreams and thank you for sharing.

  16. Max says :

    I don’t lurk, I just clicked the wrong link and showed up here. I don’t know what all of this is about so I found it to be quite confusing. 😉

    I’ve been thinking about the whole leaving Nebraska thing a bit too. There aren’t a lot of engineering things here that aren’t farm, construction, or aviation based, and I have no interest in those. I’m looking for someplace warmer, or at least more moderate. Kelsey and I are probably going to be visiting Portland this Fall so who knows, maybe we can make this hipster thing legit. Keep it up over there, I enjoy the slight changes in diction that make you sound more Japanese. I’ll have to point them out when you’re back here.

  17. Kristin says :

    You’re moving to another penthouse apartment! Excellent!

    I’ve heard you can make a killing teaching English in Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Supposedly they’re really trying to push education, cognitive that their oil supplies won’t always fuel their countries’ economies. Daniel probably has some great suggestions for where to look if you are interested in continuing teaching English. Take care! Good luck when you go back to L-town, it’s exhausting 🙂

  18. Samantha says :

    Hey! Just wanted to say I’ve been reading the blog and enjoy it a lot 🙂 I am not surprised that you are A) not ready to settle down and B) moving from Nebraska – it makes me sad cause this is where I pry always will be but it also means that I have a friend living somewhere cool that I can go visit! Good Luck on moving apartments! Hope to talk to you soon.

  19. Aunt Spike says :

    Proud is always my first response to your musings! I was bragging about you today to a friend – like your Geep, a stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet and the world is your oyster. Give you a grain a sand and suddenly there’s a pearl!! You are brillant, charming, ambitious and open minded. Not to mention handsome and tons of fun!!! I love Chicago and London for you but it doesn’t matter where you land, you’ll make the most of it! BTW, my friends response to my bragging today was – his parents must be so proud! We all are Big Al – KEEP IT UP!!!!!

  20. Sandy Tate says :

    Hi, Alex! I am a lurker on your blog. I’m a Brookfield friend of Lene Garr from Mendon, MO – we grew up together. She got me started reading your blog and it is so interesting and entertaining – you’re a good writer. My husband spent four years in Japan in the 60’s while in the Army and taught English to Japanese students while there. I know he enjoys reading your adventures for nostalgic reasons as well as the entertainment value – I’m sure it is a different Japan from when he was there. He enjoys reading of your food and drink adventures. He loved the food while there and is forever searching for authentic Japanese cuisine in our own adventures and travels. I know he’d love to go back there but I’m afraid I would feel like a bull in a china closet. We watched your blog following the earthquake and worried about you and everybody else in the vicinity. Now we are watching and worrying about our own countrymen in Joplin, MO. Hope you don’t mind if we keep reading! Your blog is like a mini vacation from the everyday life in rural Missouri.

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