Fear And Loathing

by industriousants

I’m not going to apologize. No, I will absolutely not apologize for life getting in the way of updating my blog. What I should apologize for is getting so down on myself and on life that I felt like I couldn’t share my feelings anymore with whatever crazy people actually read this blog. The last few months of typing silence has given me a chance to realize how dark and lost I’ve felt, but also how it’s up to me to pull myself up and choose a more well lit path. Still, life can certainly get depressing, especially if you get stuck returning to cnn.com every 5 minutes to see if there are any new developments on the latest American carnage. It doesn’t matter which one at this point. The blood from one flows into the other. Sometimes my little Japanese town’s newspaper headlines are much preferred. This is a place where they still report the winners of the local high school speech competition, and where baseball scores trump criminal activity.

I was having coffee the other day and the friend sitting across from me said, “You really need to start your blog up again. You know I live vicariously through the lives of others.” I thought it was funny at the time, and filed away a note in my mind that said “Do not start blog again, just because.” It’s so much easier to give up on things than to keep trying. And if I kept trying, I would have to keep wondering, what am I trying for? Well, that note kept turning up around my brain and bothering me. It bothered me because I like to write, and I like to share my thoughts, and I like to connect with people, so why give up doing what I love? So, I’m back. But i’m not sorry for leaving. No apologies, remember.

So, hey man, what’s the scutterbug? (Totally ripped this line off of urbandictionary.com). Well, we’re leaving Japan. It’s official. We are leaving in t-minus 3 months and counting, and it hardly seems like enough time to do all the little things that I managed to ignore doing over the last 4 years. All of a sudden I feel like I have to get as much as I can out of the culture, language and people as humanly possible, all at the same time as doing my normal 9-5, changing diapers and figuring out what to make for dinner. I realize I can only do so much, so I’ve resolved to just enjoy every day as much as I possibly can and to accept every experience wholeheartedly. Yes, it’s a somewhat vague resolution, but it seems to be working so far.

How do I feel about our departure? Honestly, I feel like I’m on death row. I am not even figuratively speaking. It’s hard to explain this to friends and family back home that have never spent extended time here in Japan. The word ‘safe’ takes on a whole new meaning in this country and the longer you stick around, the longer the list of American Things To Be Afraid Of gets. Guns, bombs, thieves, muslims, homeless people, black people, anybody not Japanese and not in the JET program. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. But this is the sort of strange mind altering occurrence that happens when you spend 4 years in a place where you pretty much have to beg someone to steal your stuff. I have seen a gun maybe once my whole time here. It was in a parade, and it looked about 50 years old. When I see a police car, it’s a big event to me. If I see a police car twice in one day, it’s almost positively the same one I saw earlier. The most violent public act i’ve seen here was… actually, i’ve never  seen one. And, I can run at night through my town and feel far safer than running through a Canadian park during the day. So basically speaking, the moment I step off the plane in Toronto, I fully expect to either be shot or raped, or both. I know. I know! It’s nuts right. But all bets down, I’m sure I am not the only foreign expat living here that thinks this way. You simply can’t avoid it. Your brain slowly but surely takes on the Japanese mindset that Japan is safe, and America is definitely not. Coming home is going to take some real adjusting to.

*Addendum: For any expats out there that want to preserve their on-edge, on-guard feelings whilst living in ‘safe’ Japan, might I suggest reading the Crime section of Japan Today. There are enough stories on there about random stabbings, people living with dead bodies, and yakuza/gang activity to make you feel a little more at home. But truthfully, ignorance is bliss.