All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I've been home from Japan for a year and a half now. I can count on one hand the foreigners I know who still live there. The company I taught for there has gone bankrupt. The guy I lived with there is engaged to somebody else. None of this should make me too fussed, since I'm still in touch with the people I like, the company was shite, and as for the ex... well, more power to him.

Still, it's weird.

For months after I got home, I was convinced things in Japan were just as I had left them. My friends would talk about people coming and going, but in my head every aspect of life there looked just the same. I often toyed with the idea of going back, imagining I would find my opal earrings on the corner of the coffee table, just where I had forgotten them on the day I flew home.

Enough time has gone by now that I am thoroughly over these delusions.

My work here keeps me constantly on my toes in a way that is only a pain in the ass 7% of the time and pretty entertaining the other 93%. The Boyfriend is a superstar who keeps me entertained and out of trouble. And if the almighty Admissions Board wills it, I’ll be starting work on my MFA in the fall. Far from settling down as I may be, I finally feel settled in my own life -- the American version of it.

Boyfriend on our epic PCH adventure

Of course, it is in this moment that Japan has come strolling back into my life in full force.

Just before Christmas I received an email from a colleague at school. Unlike me and all of our coworkers, she actually reads our union's monthly newsletter, and in it she’d seen something she thought might interest me – a tiny ad seeking chaperons for an American/Japanese exchange program. My interest piqued, I checked out the website. In short, it was perfect.

I stayed awake until three o'clock that morning writing my application essay.

Not three days later, my mother called me from a dinner party and insisted I come over. The hostess, who has recently moved here from the Philippines, had invited a couple of friends from her English class. As fortune would have it, they were Japanese and delighted to learn that I had been to the fair Nippon.

What's more, they wanted to do an infamous "language exchange" -- a very popular pastime in Japan, but not something you hear about that often on this side. Still, I decided it was a good idea. My 日本語 is downright rusty, and if I have any intention of going back to Japan, もとべんきょうが ひつようです (I need more practice). To that end, I've been hanging out with them regularly and getting back to the basics of Japanese. I am astounded by how much I've forgotten so quickly, but piece by piece it's slowly coming back.

Last Saturday I interviewed for the exchange program position, and it went swimmingly. I had the interview committee on the edges of their seats -- laughing at my jokes, nodding in pensive agreement at my profound statements about cultural education, and so on. They were eating out of my hand. As soon as I hear back from them, I'll update you.

I'm not sure where all these new endeavors will take me, but I promise I'll bring you along for the ride.

Hikone Castle, April '06


On a side note, if you follow my adventures regularly, here are some upcoming travels to look forward to: I have a shamelessly wealthy aunt and uncle whom I'll be visiting in Florida in early April. Look for photos of their private chateau & yacht and stories about fancy food right here. In July, I'm attending a convention in Seattle. This'll be my first time in the infamous insomniac city, so expect late-night posts and a detailed description of my trip to the original Starbucks. Also, since I already told you how perfect The Boyfriend is, I might as well throw in the fact that he's taking me to Hawaii in August. Jealous? I knew you would be.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The 3rd Degree (Revisited)

It has come to my attention that since I switched the host for my blog, I have gained vast numbers of new readers who have unfortunately missed out on all the charming content buried deep in the vaults of my archives. In order to remedy the situation, I've decided to take some old archived blogs and blow the dust off of them. If you've been with me since the beginning, don't fret -- there's still plenty of new content to come -- but this should help new readers catch up and give me a chance to organize the promised new content so it can be inflicted on *edit* released to the public in a timely fashion.


The 3rd Degree

originally posted 6/12/07

No matter who you are or where you come from, the Gaijin-in-Japan experience comes standard with a few essential pieces. This is so much the case that at least one semi-famous gaijin blog is written entirely in the second person because the author finds it safe to assume whatever happens to him in Japan might just as easily happen to any other foreigner. Perhaps that's taking it a step too far, but the truth is that some things are just part of the gaijin way of life.

One of these inescapable gaijin experiences is The Third Degree. Regardless of how many days, months, or years you spend in Japan, approximately 93% of the natives you meet will get to know you by asking you the following questions (with varying levels of English mastery): "Where are you from?"; "Do you enjoy Japan?"; "Can you eat Japanese food?"; "Can you eat nato?"; "Do you miss your home?"; and the king of them all, "Why did you come to Japan?"

This question is annoying for two reasons. One -- you have answered it seven thousand times already since your plane landed. Two -- you have no idea what the answer is and have to throw together some new bullshit every single time. After about two months of improvising, I actually sat down and tried to remember why exactly I did come to Japan and figure out how to express it clearly and eloquently. I gave up.

I went to Japan for the same reason most foreigners do: to be there. It doesn't sound like a very good reason, but it's the only real one. Jobs and studying and relationships and expanding cultural horizons are only excuses. I went to Japan because I couldn't stay away. Gravity, tides, and adventures -- there's no avoiding them. When the time is right, it is, and when you have to go, you do.

People very rarely ask why I came home, but the reason is the same. It was time. Time for a new season. Time for a different adventure.


Friday, January 11, 2008

New Photos!


Since New Year's we've gotten dumped with snow and I've got the photos to prove it. I nearly missed my chance one morning when I woke up to find that everything standing still was covered in frost... and I couldn't stop to take pics because I had to drive Gramps & Gram to the airport. I did get a few quick shots before it melted though. Enjoy!