“I’m going to get a bunch of Ramune today,” said Pete, after I replied to his Facebook message from last night. Later he sent me a picture from the store where he bought the glass-bottled “marble soda” drinks.
“Wes bought this and I couldn’t help but think of you.” This message came from another friend today, with a picture of candy sushi being held by a guy who I assume is the aforementioned Wes.
Lately at work, I’ve been catching up on my manga, getting back to reading Maid Sama! and ordering the volumes I lack.
While waiting for the deliveries in the mail, I read Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn, a young adult mystery novel about a teen girl who goes to Japan with her father, and while he’s busy with his assigned task, she’s tracking down clues as to what happened with a missing van Gogh painting. While it was somewhat enjoyable, I found a number of ways in which the writing could be improved, though I’m probably not the intended audience.
And when I haven’t been reading, or haven’t been at work, I’ve been getting back to learning Japanese. While at work, I have a kanji workbook, and I’ve practiced ichi, ni, san, yon, and go, or the numbers one through five. At night, I’ve been getting back into Duolingo, so far maintaining an 8-day streak while retaking lessons I worked on over a year ago.
I figured I would work on my Japanese some more to make it easier for myself when I manage to go to Japan, hopefully to start with going to a Japanese language school (hear me out: immersion. I’ll be forced to practice in my daily life) and have at least a year-long visa. I understand that if I try to go for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, or JLPT, and I manage to pass the N5 (basic Japanese proficiency) or N4 (a higher level of fluency, more conversational), it would help me get closer to the blue collar work visa when they finalize the requirements, but my weight would still present an issue. Regardless of that, if my skill with the language helps me get into the country, it’s a good start.
I didn’t stop at just reading manga and practicing my Japanese at work. I got mad at a coworker, and instead of being aggressive about it, I played up one of his insults for me, and let my weeaboo flag fly. To be fair, I don’t consider myself to be a weeaboo, just a Japanophile at best, and even then I have plenty of interests that don’t involve Japan. But I started wearing more of my anime and J-rock shirts to work, and I started wearing cat ear headbands. I had hoped that he wouldn’t want to be around me.
I don’t really understand why I am both comfortable and out of place while wearing the cat ear headbands. Obviously I’m the only one with cat ears, which makes me stand out, but no one seems to care, or they give me compliments if they do care. I’m reminded of the Japanese phrase that, translated, says that the nail that sticks out is the one that’s hammered down. Basically, if you don’t conform, you will be made to conform. But no one is making me change, no one is telling me to take off the cat ears, no one is telling me to only read novels if they’ve been approved by wealthy former talk show hosts, no one is telling me I shouldn’t be wearing certain shirts.
And worst of all, the coworker who upset me seems to still want to sit near me, which is the opposite of what I intended. Maybe he knows it’s frustrating me that my plan is backfiring, or maybe he’s using it to try and frustrate me. To be fair, though, the day he got me mad, it was “straw breaking the camel’s back,” I was wearing a new dress and felt ecstatic in it, but “trouble” came and I didn’t want to ruin the dress, and he seemed uncomfortable to be sitting next to me while I actually looked like a girl that day. So after I got back from my lunch break, he fed me a line that I could see through clearly. My supervisor asked me to take over a call elsewhere on the call floor, and after I finished the call, I used paid time off and left for the day. I was able to take care of what bothered me, and I had a wonderful afternoon as a result.
Maybe that’s what it is. I’m being a little more true to myself. My heart is in Japan, because there’s a guy there and I’m hoping for the best with that, but if that fails, I would have still managed to achieve a dream, I would go where I’m around a lot of the things that bring me joy. And maybe people are seeing that I’m happy when I’m around things relating to Japan. It’s kind of nice, though, to know that there’s something in this world that reminds people of me.
In the newest training class, there’s an Asian guy. In the looks department, he’s fairly average, and he reminds me of Gedde Watanabe from Gung Ho and Sixteen Candles in that respect. I’d date him, but… at this point, I’m starting to feel guilty for having feelings for Libra, for Bojack, for J, and I feel like anyone else would be a further distraction from my travel goals and possibly ending up with my friend in Japan. But oh, as I was walking down the hallway towards the break room, and he was heading towards the training room, when he said, “nice cat ears,” I melted a bit.
It’s good to be myself.