T and I were playing along with a Japanese TV-quiz program. And the first question was on the history of the Sumidagawa fireworks festival (hanabi matsuri- not the question in the photo). I immediately chose A as my answer- of course the original festival was a Shogunate sponsored event “back in the day”. T decided that it had to do with honoring the dead. When we saw the on-screen tarento’s answers, not a single one had chosen along with me, so I immediately started up with the boasting: “Look at me, a foreigner. I know more about Japanese history than all of you. I study this stuff for a living, you know.”
T, as usual, let me sit around with my chest all puffed out and spew a whole bunch of hot air, before the quiz revealed that he had been correct, not me.
T was kind enough not to say a word. He didn’t even look at me sideways. At the end of the program, he actually commented how awesome it was that i was good enough at Japanese to participate in the show. And he meant it. I’m laughing at myself as I write this.
I have moved on to mocking the Japanese accents of some tarento on the next program he recorded, mostly out of jealousy that they’re truly fluent and I am not, and this brings me to another point:
Comparison is the root of suffering in my life.
I met a guy today who’s a PhD student at one of the Best Universities in Japan. He’s my age. He has lived here a long time. While I spent most of my 20s teaching graphic design/art in the U.S., he came here, worked in the industry that I’m now studying, and became fluent in Japanese over time. He’s married to a Japanese woman, and has a kid. The kid is no sweat off his back, because she does all the childcare. (His words, not mine.) So often nicer to be an academic man than academic woman… sigh.
He seemed so happy….
In the U.S. I only play the competitive game with women (sigh), but in Japan it’s “me vs. all Americans”. I don’t feel threatened by foreigners, male or female, from any other country (even you, Canada).
Because my life is in such shambles right now (in some ways. I must maintain perspective), I find myself extra vulnerable to this unproductive mental game-playing. Hearing someone is married, hearing someone is married enough to have a kid… these things send me into a downward spiral. And if they’re better at Japanese than me on top of it, I can spend a good 8 hours in a deep depression.
I’ve been trying to snap out of this thinking for years, but it’s time to really get on top of it and give thanks for my blessings, focus on the positive like it’s my job, etc. I’m a really dark person, prone to depression, and so this runs counter to my instincts and nature.
What snapped me out of it today is learning that a 52cm box is around $130 to mail from Japan– via cheap freight shipping even. I need to mail two 60cm boxes, at least…. I am kicking myself for not mailing my winter clothes back separately and sooner, and bringing so many books here! Now granted, I’ve -read- them all so it wasn’t a waste. And they were all books I needed to read for research. But I could have just checked them out of the university library in Tokyo, maybe. Lessons learned about how to handle moving abroad for 15 months. I’ll need to plan better for my future long research trips to Japan.
So yeah, once again money worries snapped me out of my depression and sent me into anxiety-land (which shares a border with depression and has terrible border-security).
And it led to the same kind of ungrateful thinking as before: “oh if I only had money I could just mail what I need to mail home with no worries, or dump it and just buy new copies of these books/new winter clothes/shoes in the U.S.” Guess that’s a lot of money.
I suppose I’ll go back to mocking the American on TV, because he probably could afford to send these boxes. He’s not attractive, or particularly charismatic, so I wonder what choices led him to where he is. Fluent Japanese + foreigner + talent agency member + not entirely hideous –> get to be on TV in Japan.
In a lot of ways I don’t really want to leave Japan. Considering how much my Japanese skill has improved since I moved here, I’d love to see what another year could do for me, and am afraid of backsliding in Houston. Also, Tokyo is just amazing in so many ways, and I’ll really miss the friends I’ve made here.
T is sleeping on my shoulder, which means he’s officially not watching the special on Kobe beef and I can turn it off. Poor cows.