Japan, Two Years
Wednesday, October 17
I watched the US Presidential Debate before work. It was the town hall debate and quite a show. The atmosphere was electric and I couldn’t sit down the entire time. After the debate I visited the post office and sent my absentee ballot. I felt big and strong.
Sunday, October 21
Sunday I was fortunate enough to join the company bus tour for the third time! (The first visit & the second visit) We revisited Kamakura (鎌倉) with a new group of students. By now I’m an expert on all things Kamakura related, but I planned the wide-eyed tourist for the students benefit. It was fun. I really do enjoy these opportunities.
After the tour I found Mari in Tokyo and we visited a cool pizzeria/pub, Devil Craft. We ordered up some Chicago deep dish pizza and a few microbrews. I’d highly recommending giving the place a visit.
Friday, October 26
You may remember last month I visited the US Embassy in Tokyo to take the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT). It was a tough test! Much to my surprise I received an email on Friday morning. I passed the test. How do you like that? On my first attempt, without any studying too!
I’ve advanced to the next part of the years-long process of working for the State Department. Now I have a week to write six essays! Wish me luck!
Saturday, October 27
Adult Halloween Party!
I wore a flesh-colored, tattooed shirt and acted like a bad boy all night. Some of the students called me yakuza (ヤクザ). We had a good time eating Mexican food and drinking our fill. I led the crew to second party. I ordered a small beer and left early.
I forget, are there different sizes of beer in America?
Sunday, October 28
I woke up with beer breath. Showered, ate and out the door. 9 AM, back to work. The kid’s Halloween party. We’ve got to do a better job with our scheduling. Fortunately none of the staff was too worse for the wear after the party. We entertained the kids for a few hours and were tickled pink with their cute outfits.
After the party I taught three children classes and spent two hours doing office work. I was a machine.
At five I was finished and changed into my civvies. Train to Tokyo. It was Lauren’s birthday. I met with Elisha and Lauren in Shinjuku. We visited a restaurant where you flash-fry your own food. We ordered all you can drink and filled up plates with fish, meat, veggies and more. It was so refreshing to be with my girls for a nice dinner. We changed places and had one more drink together before calling it an early night. I can’t wait to celebrate our Japanese anniversary with them again soon!
-A Warped Perspective-
“You’re going to go over there and you’re going to change. Some of the changes you’ll notice immediately or when you come back. But the most profound changes, you’ll never notice.”
My father told this to me shortly before I left America for Japan. It seemed obvious. Of course a person will change living abroad. And he was right. Through the past two years I’ve changed. I’ve matured a little. It’s hard to describe, the changes. I feel like myself but at the same time I don’t recognize the new me. The foundations of my character remain, but something has been changing. I feel… warped.
My perspective. How I look at things, how I think about and approach them has changed. Perspective is such a fundamental part of our lives that it often goes unevaluated. But I feel a shift in my own point of view. It’s both good and bad.
For example, people skills. Japan is a highly contextual society. It’s important for a person to sense everything in another person. Personality, attitude, desire & hesitations. I think my people skills have developed greatly. This is good. But I’m often quick to judge. This is bad.
Recently I was eating lunch with Mari atop a mountain. I had an extremely brief interaction with an American. However in less 60 seconds I knew all I needed to about the man. His voice, his words, his body language. He was curt and insecure. I could never have a friendship with a person like that. On the outside I remained friendly & cheerful but in my mind I immediately closed myself off to him.
This trivial episode in reflective of a greater shift I’ve made. I would never have had those thoughts two years ago. Am I becoming older? More Japanese? More skeptical?
The changes continue. I’m beginning to sketch an outline for my future. I’m thinking about a career, finances, relationships, locations. I’m beginning to understand some of the sacrifices that I may have to make. Sacrifice; that word wasn’t in my vocabulary two years ago. Planning the future can be extremely stressful. At the same time it’s fun.
The biggest test will be my eventual homecoming. The first time I can hug and talk with family & friends. That’s when I’ll see how far apart we’ve drifted. Just being in America may be a test. I may have lost my love for the country.
“No matter what happens, or what you do, you’ll always be my baby.”
At least I know I’ll have my mother’s love and support all along.
Part Two: Finished.
This entry marks the final in the second year.Thank you all for journeying with me another year. So much has changed. I wrote 26 blogs this last year. Yet while much has changed, much has also grown mundane. I go hiking a lot. You all know that. So I believe it’s time for another reformatting of my blog.
I have decided to stay one extra year in Japan. An extra year of growth and experiences. For my third year I will publish this blog triweekly. I will abandon documenting my adventures except for special occasions. I will instead focus on the culture of Japan. Or more specifically, the culture of Japan through the eyes of a foreigner.
Thank you so much for being with me in spirit. I’ll be back in three weeks for the third year! Peace and さよなら！