Gaijin Smash

I Am a Cat – Addendum

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on June 24, 2008

I was originally going to just put this into comments, but as the comments are quite long now I fear it would just get lost. So you all get one more boring entry, sorry.
When I read the comments from my latest entry to my wife, she turned to me and said “Wow, they’ve been reading along all this time but they really don’t know you any better than that?” What she’s referring to is – of course I talked about all this with her. I talked about it with her first before anyone else. And as someone in the comments did catch, she actually does want to go to America. The one who is holding us back in Japan is me, if it had been up to her we’d probably already be in America now.
All the things you guys have pointed out about the possible pitfalls of taking a Japanese wife overseas, I have already thought of and discussed it with her. In fact, her possible difficulties in acclimating have been a big reason why I’ve stayed in Japan – to better prepare her. We have talked about this, and I feel that her own words to me really sum up the matter perfectly:

“Don’t be that worried about my English. No matter how much you teach me here, it’ll be completely different over there, right? I mean, you studied in a college – university level courses – for four years, and that didn’t make you fluent when you first got here. Besides, there are plenty of Japanese people who go abroad with no English ability whatsoever and learn while there. Immersion is the best method, isn’t it? Just being around you and your friends gives me a head start that many Japanese people didn’t have when they went overseas.
And as for the culture shock, yeah, I know. I know it will be difficult being away from family and friends and everything I’ve ever known, in a totally different culture. But, I’m going to feel culture shock no matter how much you try to “prepare” me, right? Same for you – you went through all those orientations and lectures, but you also felt culture shock too. So, its going to hit me no matter what. And when it does hit me, you’ll be there to help me just the same as I helped you during your “I hate Japan!” moments, right?
Ultimately, I am an adult and I can make my own decisions. It does us no good to worry about me being okay or not. I know what comes with leaving Japan and going with you to America – and I can make that choice on my own. And I’m choosing to go to America, so as my husband, you’ll be there to support and help me with whatever difficulties I face there, right?”
Now you can see why I married this girl.
About the job – yes, as I said before, I know that work generally sucks no matter what country you are in. And while I did talk about the Japanese overtime culture, and while some of that applies to my current job…the issues run far, far deeper than that. Nothing is perfect; everything’s got its pluses and minuses – you weigh the advantages versus the disadvantages and decide whether its something you want to stick with. With this job, the disadvantages are just way too many.
Many other employees (Japanese or otherwise) have already quit, with many others extremely unhappy and planning to quit when the time is right. The general consensus is that yeah, work sucks; but this is far too extreme a case. Even my wife, who usually defaults on the side of “its not as bad as you think; stick it out!” is saying that I should quit as soon as possible.
Again, I don’t really want to get into it too much, so you’re all going to have to trust me that its just not a place where you would want to continue working any longer than is absolutely necessary.
Since the original posting I have sort of hammered out a plan. While I will keep my eye on the job I really want to do that may or may not open up later this year, when the current job ends, we will probably stay in Japan and I will look for work as… English teacher.
Do I want to do English teaching again? Absolutely not. I can still remember the pure euphoria of walking out of my last English class thinking “I’ll never have to do THIS again!” But, it is a decent salary, and it should leave enough free time for me to pursue writing. While it does feel like a career regression…honestly, being a translator/division chief now doesn’t really help me either if I’m looking to become a writer (aside from being able to claim editing experience I guess). I would like to avoid kids/public school though if at all possible. Ideally, I’d like to teach or even assist or something at a university. I’m not sure how to go about getting a job at a college, but I will start looking into it.
In the meantime, I will probably pick up a second job working at an English conversation school. I really don’t want to do this either – what little free time I already have will be reduced to non-existant, and there’s the big risk of getting burned out from both jobs. But, I can’t ignore the money problem either, and I have to do whatever I can. Work the second job to pay off the wedding and start the savings fund.
This isn’t set in stone – it may change depending on conditions, or I may decide I hate it and don’t want to do it. But for now, it’s a direction at least.
Okay, this is really the last of the boring entries, honest.


88 Responses

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  1. Relja said, on June 24, 2008 at 2:20 am

    The only possible problem I see here is your wife learning English well enough to one day read through your blog ๐Ÿ™‚
    On un unrelated note, I don’t remember reading about your worst “I hate this country” moments. I I know that there were lots of moments when you were really shocked from something particularly weird or gross, but apart from that, your emotional journey (country-wise) in Japan is not that clear to me. I sort of know your final thoughts, but not the way you got there (again, in your head, not through the stuff which happened – we know that in all it’s horrible glory :).
    Maybe it’d be cool if you could write a line or two about the upps and downs of your stay in Japan, and how you got through them.
    In any case, good luck, man!
    P.S. If you did write about it, I apologize for not first going through the archives

  2. Joe said, on June 24, 2008 at 3:09 am

    Wow, unless you edited that for her, your wife’s English is excellent! Is her pronunciation that good, too? Seems like Ls, Rs & THs are the hardest for most Japanese people, because they have to learn the correct way to move their lips and tongue to have any hope of sounding right. A RL friend of mine confused everyone but me by saying “buru” instead of “blue” (I only got it because of dealing with kana-fied English so much.)
    As for returning to school (again), look on the bright side: you’ll have more stories to entertain us with! ๐Ÿ™‚
    After all, some of us remember your stories, whether we’re talking reminiscing about:
    * Chiidori kanchos (The pain level is OVER 9000!)
    * Korean coworkers who want to know your ‘size’. While cm make you sound like a bigger man, it never hurts to accidentally use 10.54 as the conversion factor between cm an inches…
    * Leftover phone numbers when a day can’t get any worse. (They can’t bottom out, though, until you find out about that barbed wire tool that was inserted in a place Things Do _NOT_ Go [TM].)
    * Or just the fact that you were smart enough to marry the NICE girl who sticks by you and who everybody likes, instead of that psycho ex everybody hated ๐Ÿ™‚
    (Az’s Note: Of course the conversation took place in Japanese. I just wrote up the equivalent to what she said in English.)

  3. Amanda said, on June 24, 2008 at 3:41 am

    If it’s any help, I teach English part-time and write part-time, and personally I find that it’s a really great combination (but, I must note, teaching ADULTS, who want to be there). Writing can get pretty solitary, so teaching gives me great social interaction; on the other hand, teaching can be physically exhausting, so being able to sit at my computer with just me and my thoughts is a great relief. And the bonus is that it’s amazing how often my students will say something that sparks something off for me to write – I’m guessing more so than in other jobs, because in English lessons you cover so many topics and have lots of conversation. Good luck with it – I hope it works out!

  4. Mayhem said, on June 24, 2008 at 5:59 am

    Reading that first section, I can now definitely see why you concluded the way you did Az: I think she is a keeper. If only all women were as understanding and talked about compromise. If my experiences are anything to go by… sadly not!
    As for the writing aspect, it can be done secondary to real work. I’ve been a freelancer for almost 20 years while having a proper 9-5 job, proof that it can be done. It just takes a bit longer than if you were doing it full time :p
    Good luck going back to English teaching… I’m sure normal kancho dodge dick senses service will resume shortly…!

  5. Draz said, on June 24, 2008 at 6:07 am

    Well it seems like you’re wife is abit more adult than you are, judging by the way she expressed herself. Dude whatever you do as long as there is support it’s worth it, right? (well maybe not a full rear kancho but you understand).
    Going back to school may suck but it gave you great stories to write here and hopefully also some great memories.
    If you ever bring out a book I will buy a copy for sure.

  6. GK said, on June 24, 2008 at 6:19 am

    Dude Ganbate (or however you spell it). I know you have probably heard it about 2^30 times but its true.
    Just remember who you are doing all of this for, thinking about a loved one’s happiness can make even the most horrible job/ordeal/person tolerable.
    I just finished my BSc and that helped me a lot and it will help me when I start my MSc this fall.
    Actually your stories also helped a lot and provided you don’t abandon gaijinsmash for something that actually pays they will continue to help.
    Greetings from Iceland to you and you wife to be.

  7. Anonymous said, on June 24, 2008 at 6:28 am

    So when is her blog going up? The one about how crazy America is.

  8. Fraz said, on June 24, 2008 at 6:57 am

    As a British guy who moved to the US, I’d like to advise you to look into the process of getting a visa for your wife as soon as possible. I moved and married my (American) wife in the US, which, then at least, was a less time-consuming process than being married before you move, and still took months and a lot of paperwork. When you also consider the permanent residency stuff after she gets here. you’re looking at years of collecting stuff to to send to the US Government.
    With that said, good luck, whatever your final plan turns out to be.

  9. Minstrel said, on June 24, 2008 at 7:20 am

    hey there Az! I’ve been a loooong time reader and really hope your situation gets better. Two jobs will really stress you out. But you’ll somehow manage it. I mean if it’s really essential and necessary, you’ll somehow hang in there.
    As John Rambo said “When pushed… killing’s as easy as breathing”.. um.. yeah, just wanted to quote some 80s action hero ๐Ÿ™‚
    I was just wondering about your wife knowing about Gaijin Smash and stuff… you mentioned to her the talkback of the last posting. So she really is aware of your web presence. Isn’t she curious about all your editorials, and won’t she be quite – let’s say – surprised about the content of some of them?!
    Hang in there bro!
    Although I have no materialistic help to offer, I’ll still try to channel some of the good vibes and energy, that I got reading your stories all these years, back to you man!
    Keep us updated, we do care.
    Regards and all the best from Vienna, Austria, Europe, Earth.

  10. Polaryzed said, on June 24, 2008 at 7:34 am

    Az, no worries man. NOTHING you ever post is ever boring. I have to tell my wife this every time something unexpected or undesirable happens in our lives, “Don’t worry. Things will work out in the end.” And they almost always do. Don’t fret; you’ve got your head screwed on straight and a great sounding girl by your side. The cards are stacked in your favor. Ganbare!

  11. ใ‚ธใ‚ทใ‚น said, on June 24, 2008 at 9:00 am


  12. Steve said, on June 24, 2008 at 9:12 am

    I’ve been reading your musings for ages now, and have always loved your writing style and wit. I would pay good money for a book if you wrote one. In fact, I’ll donate my PKR winnings to the ‘Az Book Fund’ from now on, just give us a PayPal account to drop the dollars into ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. rubbav1 said, on June 24, 2008 at 9:32 am

    *sniff* that’s so…touching
    and you guys doubted her
    for shame

  14. code monkey said, on June 24, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Hey, if it’s only “temporal” (what our Japanese counterparts tell us when they mean temporary), I guess, it won’t be so bad. As long as keep your eye on the end goal.

  15. Azrael said, on June 24, 2008 at 10:41 am

    I’m not openly soliciting donations again, but my Paypal account remains the same as it always has been –

  16. trixie said, on June 24, 2008 at 11:20 am

    I’ll second the comment- Dude, you are so screwed when she gets fluent enough to read this thing.
    Actually, I’m sure you will be far enough along in your marriage that she will laugh with you as she reads through it.
    So, my serious question- have you considered becoming a Japanese language teacher in Japan? I know, sounds crazy, but there are a good many expats that get shipped around the world, Japan being a likely spot for many. The need for skilled language instructors is there, and you may have an edge, being an Native Occidental who speaks English and can relate both cultures.
    Coals to Newcastle, and that sort of stuff…it would also allow you a more flexible schedule to pursue your writing

  17. April said, on June 24, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Your a good husband Az..and you’ve got yourself an excellent wife! Whatever you do, just keep telling’s not forever!
    And one day I’ll be thrilled to buy your first novel!

  18. Justanothermom said, on June 24, 2008 at 11:47 am

    I like Mikki’s style! I was so happy to read what she told you; it’s great to know you’ve got such great support from her!
    As far as everyone’s concerns about her finding out what you’ve written in the past once she learns English, I have an inkling that you’ve already translated much of it for her, and are not concerned about her reading for herself later on; after all, it’s apparent you’re translating all the comments to her. Everyone needs to recognize that she knew what (who) she was getting when she said yes to your proposal (even with the dreaded PMS symptoms she was having at the time).
    May God bless you both as you move toward your goals!

  19. Dog said, on June 24, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Well, I wish you the best of luck and I don’t look forward to my time stationed in Japan(well I kinda do and kinda don’t) *disheartened cries quickly followed by angry yelling and throwing things at the Marines for stationing me in Japan instead of near Russia where the action is*.

  20. Dave said, on June 24, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Az, boring or not it’s always good to see you post an entry. Goodluck with everything.

  21. Joe said, on June 24, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Well, I wish your wife good luck in her studies. I’m still trying to learn Japanese, so I can appreciate the difficulty.
    But I still look forward to more stories from school, even if I feel a little bit sorry for the fact that you’ll be experiencing them ๐Ÿ™‚
    At least you’ll have things to write about…

  22. HiEv said, on June 24, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Dang, for a second there I thought you were moving back to the US and we’d start getting “Ninja Smash!” entries from your wife. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Anyways, no matter what you do, I hope things turn out well for you. Keep us updated.
    P.S. The page URL is broken again. Feed correctly points to “i_am_a_cat_adde.phtml” while the main page tries “i_am_a_cat_addendum.phtml”.

  23. Navi said, on June 24, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Best of luck getting a teaching job at the college level! I’m sure the (slightly) higher maturity level of your students will make all the difference to how much you enjoy it. ^^; My advice would be to try an International University; they seem like they’d be more open to giving the job to a gaijin. And you can have some not-Japanese students in there to spice things up, too! You’re not too far from Kansai Gaidai, are you? Or else Akita, while quite a big move for you two, is really good… (I go to Akita’s sister school; if you end up there, I’ll drop you a line!)

  24. Heiko said, on June 24, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Wow, your wife is very awesome indeed, sounds like a good choice.
    Whatever happens with you two in the future, I wish you the very best, from what I’ve read in your blog, you sound like a person who deserves it.
    On another topic: sometime ago I wrote you an email asking you wether you’d be interested in meeting in Kyoto. I will be there the whole August. Since I am also aspiring to live and teach in Japan, this could be interesting. I hope you’ll write back.

  25. MBellan said, on June 24, 2008 at 7:09 pm
    I just read this and I was hoping that it wasn’t true of this series.

  26. Khastalphos said, on June 24, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Ah hahaha, I live in Akita. Yes, come join us! You’ll be (non-student) gaijin #103 in the whole prefecture! Ok, maybe 104. Actually, scratch that. Don’t come here. I have never once met a (young) Japanese woman who tolerates cold weather. When your wife experiences her first winter here, she’ll slice you open Star Wars-style and crawl inside to keep warm.

  27. Christopher Mohr said, on June 24, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    I have to second Fraz’s comment. If you plan on her going to live in America, get ready for the paperwork and the waiting (mostly the second part). It actually works ALOT easier if you are married for two years or more before trying to bring her over here. It took those sadistic clowns in the state department almost a year and with three different denials in my wife’s case. You’ll find that Immigration tends to be a longer wait, but they get the job done. The State department is a whole other can of worms.
    Here is a list of forms, etc. that you’ll need to fill out if she is coming here for more than a visit (NOTE. the forms are still in the corect sequence, but the fees have gone up. My total from 2005 will be less than yours, check and for current fees):
    Forms and costs, to date.
    1.) I-130 ($190). Additional documents – my passport, birth certificate, her passport, passport style photos of both of us, marriage certificate, form G-325A (no fee!)
    2.) I-129F ($170). Additional documents – passport, birth certificate, proof of meeting (marriage certificate).
    3.) DS-156K ($100). Additional forms – DS-157 (no fee), birth certificates, marriage certificates, evidence of support (I-134, I-864 and/or I-184A), DS-3032 (choice of agent form, no fee)
    4.) DS-230 ($335+ $45 security surcharge = $380). Additional forms – DS-230I, medical exam, immunization and chest x-ray report ($80 in Cambodia, but other places charge different amounts), forms DS-2053, 3024, 3025, 3026.
    5.) ADS-01 (denial form). No real cost, but the cost of making her travel to Bangkok for further processing was $200. Additional forms – proof of income (again, those morons!), evidence of relationship, and explanation of circumstances of meeting.
    Total cost (2005): $1120
    Might I suggest that teaching adults is loads more fun. I did in college (study abroad in Japan) and if I could have done it again, I would have. Not the best paying job in the world, but always interesting. I’d suggest ECC, if you can get in with the local office. You might also look at moonlighting for a smaller, local school. In short, stay in japan for two more years, if you can, and see if you like teaching adults better than children.

  28. Patrick said, on June 24, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    College teaching jobs depend on what college. Most community colleges want only a BS/BA and maybe a teaching certificate. Universities want a Masters in teaching and a bachelor’s degree in whatever you’re teaching. I don;t know about Conversational English classes in Japan, but I suspect they are similar.
    You could always jut bite people for money.

  29. Xak said, on June 24, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Good luck, Az. Sounds like a bitch of a situation to be in and I don’t envy you. And seriously sorry you’re stuck in a contract so long in a shitty job. Your wife does sound intelligent and has this clearly thought-out on her end.
    I do agree with someone’s comment that the disadvantage would be her reading this site (especially since my husband just reads my comments here and occasionally has a snarky remark for me–just from freaking comments!), but the biggest concern was spoiling surprises like the proposal, yeah?
    Glad you’re figuring things out (tentatively) and as for the writing–another good luck. I’ve been trying to figure it out for 10 years now (not that anything’s entirely ready for publication) and any time I read up, it just sounds like SUCH a pain in the ass. Of all things, a young adult writer wrote best about the experience, for really explaining how it goes (Stephanie Meyer) on her blog. “Send it in, get rejected until someone doesn’t,” seems to be the consensus, though.
    But if this site is an indicator, I do think you have a talent for it and you’ll have to let us know when you do get something finished (if you’re still stringing us along at that point, lol).

  30. Azrael said, on June 24, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    I can say, with some degree of confidence, that there’s very little to nothing on this site that my wife doesn’t already know about.

  31. Jenna said, on June 24, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    You should really come back to America. Your lady seems exicted about the prospect of living in a new culture and you really don’t want to take a job you absoultly hate. Believe me, there is nothing worse than working somewhere, where when you wake up in the morning you’re like “i’m upset i didn’t die in my sleep because i have to go in to work today.”

  32. Stephen said, on June 24, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Az. I’ve been reading you for a loooong time, and never have I bothered to comment on anything you’ve written. I’m a fan, I have to admit, of course, and I just wanted to say, I’m really proud of you for having gone so far.
    The amount of time I’ve put into reading and checking this blog is insane (and I’m normally not a blogs kind of guy at all) is ridiculous. It’s because I find you likeable and worth reading, but also pleasant. It’s easy to feel like I know you, like we’re buds or whatever, despite the obvious.
    I don’t want to offer you advice here. If Japan is where you want to be, then I wish you well. If you’re ready to come back to the States, then, awesome, too, wish you well. Either way, I just wanted to say, I hope you keep writing. I know that blogging can be tiresome at times, and I’m sure you sometimes feel like you might have nothing to say, or no time to compose the things you really wish you could say– but you’ve built this sort of strange community out of people who genuinely care about what you have to say, and have, whether intentionally or otherwise, invested themselves in your life.
    The moral of the story, since I’m rambling here, is that whatever you choose to do, you’ll do well, and even if you falter or feel overwhelmed or uncertain, you’ll grace us all with worthwhile writing and charming accounts. Keep the faith, and best of luck to you. I’d call you friend, but you don’t know me– and I think I’ll do it anyway, because I think of you as a friend, despite us never speaking. Thanks for every word, every laugh, every smile, every sigh.
    And no matter what you wind up doing, be strong.
    (Az’s Note: Thank you for the comment.)

  33. Anonymous said, on June 25, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Hey Az,
    Been reading for this site for years now, thanks for all the hard work. If you ever want a job teaching (oh the horror~) might I recommended teaching Japanese at universities. Since you like writing, you might want to look into getting a phd in Asian studies while working on your books. Many top tier and second tier universities are looking for people to fill the ranks. Their is an shortage of people that understand Japanese culture/economics/politics/art. I can say this because of the lackluster Asian studies department in my top 10 engineering college

  34. Anonymous said, on June 25, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Hey Az,
    Been reading for this site for years now, thanks for all the hard work. If you ever want a job teaching (oh the horror~) might I recommended teaching Japanese at universities. Since you like writing, you might want to look into getting a phd in Asian studies while working on your books. Many top tier and second tier universities are looking for people to fill the ranks. Their is an shortage of people that understand Japanese culture/economics/politics/art. I can say this because of the lackluster Asian studies department in my top 10 engineering college

  35. Dunn Deegan said, on June 25, 2008 at 1:20 am

    you can definitely teach in a Uni, or at least a high school. I’m sure you would definitely prefer either to dealing with middle/elementary school kids. You can’t pick up and shake the money out of the high school students pockets when they are bad…but they are much better over all.
    I was offered a Japanese Uni job with only a B.A. in Criminology and 2 years teaching experience in a high school in Korea. You can obviously get a job in a Japanese Uni if you actually want one.

  36. nemuri said, on June 25, 2008 at 2:24 am

    And me who thought you only married her for the secks, silly me ! [/DrHouse]

  37. Danny said, on June 25, 2008 at 3:05 am

    Howdy There. You know me in kyoto, Danny friend of Josh, always at the Hub. I can probably get you a job at my university if you want it around April next year.
    Get in touch and I will do my best to help you out,

  38. Tensho said, on June 25, 2008 at 3:49 am

    That girl’s a keeper, right there. That is when she’s not manipulating you into doing things she wants, by making you feel guilty, anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Then again, I believe all women are like that. Looking past the compulsory baggage (yes we blokes have our faults too!), it appears your girl is a real catch. Don’t let that one get away!
    All the best and I hope things look up for you two soon.

  39. Stan said, on June 25, 2008 at 10:30 am

    The “boring” entries are fine. It can’t all be happy happy joy joy. Delightful to hear your wife’s voice in this space. She does seem like a wonderfully fit mate for you. Congrats. That’s the real congrats – not the marriage per se – but finding a fit, suitable mate.
    It sounds like you two have thought this out. Best of luck on your work plan. Sometimes you do have to take one step back in order to take two steps forwards. Good good good for you. I know times are tough now, but your fundamentals are good: good guy, good girl, love, a plan, a sense of adventure, and mutual support.

  40. John Smith said, on June 25, 2008 at 11:25 am

    she turned to me and said “Wow, they’ve been reading along all this time but they really don’t know you any better than that?”
    Consider most of your stories are you dodging dick grabs… (all though there has been growth and transition in your stories) Also, you yourself said it was more of a blog post, so you may have just typed it up on spur of the moment.
    Anyway, I made some of those comments, like a friend would say something as a friendly reminder.
    As we know she wants to come to the States, but wanting and seriously considering are too different things and we don’t want a friend to get caught off guard if he/she can do something to prepare for it.
    (on a side note it did make you post again, when it has been weeks upon weeks at some times)

  41. Andrea said, on June 25, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I’ve also been reading for a long time and I have to say that as much as you want to come home now, stick it out for a little bit longer. See what other jobs are out there. Like others have been saying, teach adults, check out international universities, talk to people you know or your wife knows and find out if they know somebody who knows somebody who can get you a better job. It’s amazing how easily you can find a connection to the inside just by talking to random people. This is kind of unrelated, but a good friend of mine got married to his long-time foreign girlfriend last year (oh, WoW relationships) and moved to her side of the world. He gave up his car, his job, his family, friends — you name it, he sacrificed it for her. Long story short, after all that paperwork, getting a Visa, buying a ring, one marriage ceremony in each country, and many more expenses.. they’re divorcing. (NOT LIKE THAT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU.) Why? She refuses to make it work, but also, refuses to come to America. (She swears the air gives her a rash. What? Whaaaat?!) It wasn’t even a consideration. She’s a bitch, too, so I guess that helps. Moral of the story — be thankful your wife is as sweet and understanding as she is, and is willing to make such a difficult transition if that’s what you both decide is best. It took my friend over three months to find a job over there, a country that speaks a lot more English than Japan, so I’m sure if you guys decided to move here it wouldn’t take your wife nearly as long. Still. Know that the thought of more kancho stories fills me with joy, a kind of Hello Kitty-flavored joy that.. well, frankly feels kinda wrong. But you’re a great writer — if Tucker Max can put out a book, you can too! (I work in a bookstore. I see tons of squealing girls buy his book allllll the time and he’s a douchebag. Funny, but douchey nonetheless. Besides, I can get you a booksigning!) Writers wouldn’t have jobs if it weren’t for annoying people to write about. Seriously. If you haven’t already read “Then We Came To The End” by Joshua Ferris, pick it up. It’s an excellent book about work, other people, and how annoying, funny, and sad it can all be. Maybe it’ll inspire you! I love writing about all the crazy customers I have to deal with on a regular basis; it keeps me sane and hey, maybe I’ll get published one of these days.
    So, to sum, I say stick it out for now, see what happens, but save money on the side for paperwork just in case. Even though I don’t know you in real life, I feel like I know you well enough to say that you’ll do what’s right — and she’s lucky to have you. Wait til you have kids — oh, the stories..
    Best of luck! Your blog’s been one of my favorite sites for years, so here’s to many more! Etc, etc, ad nauseam.

  42. some dude said, on June 25, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Yo man. I have been reading your posts for a while and I must admit your blogs are cool. You’ve told alot of great and hilarious stories, not to mention taught me a thing or 2 about Japan. Your the only African American I know who tells about his life in Japan ( and there arent many who do). Things may seem tough dude, but if you stay strong and faithful you will shine from all your troubles. I know your not really a religious type or whatever, but GOD is always willing to help a brother out such as yourself. Heck if there is anyone who can give you some lead way in life its Him alone. I dont want to preach to you my man, but my prayers to you as always and no GOD doesnt hate you. Your stories about Japan and how they encourage and help us readers puts a smile in his face.

  43. Colin said, on June 25, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Your wife is ADORABLE.

  44. Helge said, on June 25, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I gotta agree with you, you picked the right woman as far as being supportive is concerned. So, pretty soon we’ll start hearing about your adventures teaching some lot of sereriman at an eigonogakkou, and about the silly stuff they bring to class. I’m looking forward to it already. No advice from me; I’ve got my hands full messing up my own life. Ganbatte! ^_^

  45. Corey said, on June 25, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Well clearly God doesn’t entirely hate you to find and marry a woman like that. She seems amazing already, especially for your current situation. I hope you never take her for granted. All cliche “best of luck” type phrases to you.

  46. Liv said, on June 25, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Hi, Az! I’m glad your wife is on your side – that makes a huge, huge difference. I know how you feel about getting back into teaching English; on the other hand, it doesn’t have to be for that long; you have the power here and can leave Japan when you like! I might suggest ECC to you; my friends there have the opportunity to teach university classes at Mukogawa. They also work 29.5 hours a week. And what about privates? Set your rates and your schedule.
    good luck, Az!

  47. Brett said, on June 26, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Well, if you do eventually make it as a writer, after going back to teaching in public school, you’ll be in good company. Quite a few writers started out as teachers and/or professors; take Stephen King, for example.

  48. Sille said, on June 26, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Once more: best wishes to you, no matter what path you choose! Also, I’d like to congratulate you for marrying such an amazing woman; as a girl nearing her twenties I find her rather inspiring. I truly wish for the happiness of you two.
    When the world gives you lemons…
    …kancho the biatch all the way into next year! ๐Ÿ˜€

  49. Kyle E said, on June 26, 2008 at 8:55 am

    =\ Ganbatte I can’t believe I’ve been following you for almost a year and a half… I’m back in kyoto again so if you wana spend any of your precious free time send me an email?

  50. Loner said, on June 26, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Boy, are you popular! 50 comments in two days, congrats on a job well done!
    Well, I just wanted to comment on how lucky you are to have such a good wife. I wish I can one day find someone who is as good to me.
    And also to keep encouraging you to pursue your dream of becoming a writer. You’ve got it in you, man! I’m pretty sure you’ll be very much successfull.
    I’m cheering for you mostly beacuse we share the same dream, and are under similar places in life. So, if you succeed, it’s kind of life’s way of telling me “He did it! You can do it, too!”
    Best of luck to you, gaijin! =)

  51. Matthew said, on June 26, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Hello Az,
    This would be my first comment I’ve ever written here, so I would like to be constructive. I’m a teacher here as well, and I work for a private company that deals primarily with business classes and university classes. If you look around, you should be able to find several companies that do similar things, such as Nichibei (a seperate division from their group classes), GIEA ( the Geos business class division) and several others. I am currently at CES, and the pay is better than your basic eikaiwa and you get to design your own schedule. It is usually part time work though, so at the beginning, it will be slow. I don’t know if that will help you, but it’ll give you an idea of other places you can teach. Most of these companies also contract out to large universities such as Kobe Uni, prefectural schools and the Foreign Language School of Osaka (which is now part of Osaka Univ.).
    Best of luck with trying to find a new job.

  52. klaue said, on June 27, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Hey Az
    I just wanted to tell you that the link to this entry on the archive page ( is wrong. Other faulty archive links: “Darndest Things Vol. 5”, “Very Lost in Translation” and “Outpost Nine Updated 2/29”
    (I know, that doesn’t help with the actual problem)

  53. Thauglorim said, on June 27, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Always remember that a good writer never takes advice, he gives it.
    Anyway I’ve been wondering if you could make you’re first novel a “guide to the ganijin for the japanese”, seeing as that populace needs more information about foreigners, then vice versa.
    “Gaijin in the mist”? “A tale of foreigners and why we shouldn’t fear them in Nippon?” titles come to mind.

  54. Luna said, on June 27, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    You know, this may be a dumb idea to pursue, but why don’t you try selling your story (Being a Japanese Schoolteacher/ Foreigner in Japan), to someone in Hollywood to make it a television show? I think it would make a great show. I know I’d watch it. (lulz) Though I dunno if the FCC would approve of the whole penis grabbing, butt stabbing portion if it were a show.
    But really, if you decide to sell a book, I would definitely buy it, since you seem to have a knack for storytelling already. If you really are interested, I suggest contacting publishers when you can, especially in both Japanese and English markets.

  55. Darnell40 said, on June 28, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Hey Az,
    Long time fan, first time poster here with some possible ideas to offer you regarding employment.
    First let me say that I’ve enjoyed your writings these past few years and wanted to add that I think your writing is great. I like that you are providing a different perspective as far as being a (non military) African American living in Japan. I was stationed there awhile back for a few years first at Gotemba near Mt. Fuji and then Okinawa. I had a great time there and met some wonderful people but I always wondered what it would be like to live there without the stigma that some there attach with being military and reading your posts have given me something of an idea of what to expect should I ever decide to do so.
    I was able to follow my military service with a non military Federal position working as a civilian for the Dept. of Defense and am now currently working overseas in the Middle East with taking a position in . I was wondering if you had ever considered applying with the U.S. govt for a job? There are always positions open at any of the many bases in Japan as well as worldwide and with your degree and experience, you could even teach at the DOD schools there. You’d get all the benefits and holidays of working an american job with the added benefit of living in Japan and you’d have a leg up since most of the job offers I see listed for Japan are targeted for Americans already there.
    If you didn’t want to stay in Japan, depending on what Govt Agency you work for, you always have the option of transferring to another duty station anywhere in the world.
    You won’t get rich working for the govt but neither will you starve and with the bennies included; paid holidays, medical coverage, vacation, as well as the travel opportunities, it’s a great place to work if you are planning on starting a family or just need a “regular” job while pursuing other goals.
    Here is a link if you want more info and if you have anymore questions from an “insider”, feel free to email me.
    Peace man, and keep up the great work!

  56. Kitten said, on June 30, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Go Az! I wish you all the luck the US and Japan has got. Here’s something to look forward too: more amusing ‘I was a Japanese school teacher’ stories.
    There really should be a ‘I survived being a Japanese school teacher’ show over here. There’s already a ‘I survived a Japanese Game show’ here, why not expand?

  57. raye said, on June 30, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Hey Az!
    Again thanks for taking the time out of your busy life to write your blogs. You’re a great writer and I would definitely buy your book if you write one (even if its not japanese related). Good luck in getting all your plans in order. It seems from this blog and from the one’s in the past that you guys from long ago weighed out all your options and I know that you and your wife will be fine with whatever you guys decide to do! Good Luck!
    P.S. I didn’t know that your wife knew about your website. That’s awesome, I would’ve loved to see her reaction when you told her. Maybe you mentioned in a previous blog and I missed it.

  58. Anonymous said, on June 30, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    As far as the job at a university, have you thought about a grad assistantship type thing? Work on your pHD by writing full time and make money too. Also there may be more money floating around out there in the form of fellowships and what-not. I don’t know if it helps but maybe there is something like that in their university system. This has probably popped into your head already, if not hope it helps.

  59. Anonymous said, on June 30, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    As far as the job at a university, have you thought about a grad assistantship type thing? Work on your pHD by writing full time and make money too. Also there may be more money floating around out there in the form of fellowships and what-not. I don’t know if it helps but maybe there is something like that in their university system. This has probably popped into your head already, if not hope it helps.

  60. The Postindustrialist said, on June 30, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Been a while since I came back here as updates had been rather sporadic.
    First of all, thanks for the Soeseki reference. It’s been ages since I read that particular book, and if I remember correctly it was one of his later ones, right? Nevertheless, spot on.
    Secondarily, things aren’t so great in the US’s job market,and although I can’t say much about the market in Japan, you might be better off riding things out there, especially with no references to businesses within the US for several years, however, I’m sure you’re better able to gauge that than I am. Nevertheless, things aren’t easy.
    You write well, and this website should be a testament to that, however, you should also consider what sort of writing you would like to do, and try to figure out for yourself if it will pan out. Writing fiction isn’t the same as writing for newsprint, and writing on a blog is another creature yet.
    I know because I also share a profound interest in the craft of writing.
    But, perhaps an avenue you haven’t considered would be starting your own business. If you could do something small and easy to manage, perhaps this would relieve some of the dissatisfaction you feel about work right now and at the same time, free up some of your time to pursue your interests. Also, have you considered a change of location? Perhaps something slightly more rural might have a slower pace than you can grow accustomed to?
    In any case, I hope things go well for you, and you can find a way out of this rut you’re finding yourself in.

  61. pw said, on July 1, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Az, my grandmother came to America from Japan 50 years ago by herself with a 2 month old baby. Not knowing a word of english she hunted down the father and forced him into marriage (she still doesn’t know very much english though, and she still thinks blockbuster is “black bastard”). Your woman already has a head start with you by her side.

  62. Peter said, on July 1, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Hey, first time poster, long time lurker. Just thoughts on the job/writing thing . . .
    I don’t know if anyone’s suggested this already (probably) but I bet that you could at least get started in writing and bring in some money by publishing your Gaijin Smash archives. You’d get plenty of fans who would preorder a book (I would) and then you’d be established at least some in publishing instead of coming in as a total newbie.

  63. Stan said, on July 2, 2008 at 11:40 am

    pw, you gotta tell the rest of that story about your grandmother. How, when, where, what was said, did they stay together, etc., etc…. C’mon, now!

  64. Hilary said, on July 2, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Honestly, I think she can make it. I knew a guy who married a Japanese girl who came here to study, but still knew very little English. They are doing okay and Mai, the girl, is learning English pretty well.
    He always told me, “One way to marry a Japanese girl, is to knock her up.” Hah.

  65. minty said, on July 2, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I would totally pre-order a Gaijin Smash book. This web site got me and my friends through our own period of teaching English abroad. A Gaijin Smash book should be required reading for anyone planning to do that.

  66. Me said, on July 2, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Try going for upper level education… like university level. You have plenty of experiance, and as a product of the american education system, you know how to BS.

  67. Shiroikami said, on July 2, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Whatever you choose, Az, good luck.
    In spite of -nearly- everything you say being couched as jokes, you always seem to choose the best path for yourself in the end, so if you think its time for a career change, then you`re definitely right.
    P.S. I am a short-term ryuugakusei at Hokkaido University, and as I ride the train every day I wish that I were not a small white girl so that I could Gaijin Smash my way out of being squished like a sardine…

  68. danlan said, on July 5, 2008 at 2:03 am

    Hey Az. I’ve really been enjoying your observations, stories and adventures in japan for the last year or so.
    Your decision to write strikes me as eminently sound,as your posts are a throughly good read!(actually I can’t say i’ve ever laughed, guffawed and been so impatient for your next installment!as i am when reading ‘gajinsmash’).
    That you’ve decided to write as a passion (an maybe get paid) is a big thing in my book as I made a similar decision a few years ago, but with painting in mind. It may seem like a step backward to go back to teaching english and I have no real experience of that, but if you can somehow wangle your way into a position where you have the least amount of responsibilty possible, ie: you don’t worry about work when you get home, that, that will, at the very least leave you with some ‘mental energy’ for writing at the end of the day. I mean no one wants to flip burgers or deliver mail for a living (trust me..dogs,wind,the public..)my point is that just do whatever it takes to live out your dream.That may sound like a clichรฉ but if you want it, who cares if you have to teach the bored an the restless, it’s griss to the mill Az. For me , I deliver mail in the mornings and paint with the rest of the day. Well delivering mail is pretty damn mail in from dog..and so on. But when i paint, all that is gone and its worth it.
    so keep going Az no matter what,
    Cheers danlan

  69. Jesse said, on July 5, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Good luck to you, my friend! I know that whatever happens is for the best; the right things will happen to you, too. You’re a great guy, and you truly deserve a great job. And you’re right; your wife is one cool girl!

  70. chaosrainz said, on July 8, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Sympathies, AZ.
    The economy is tight here in the States too and not looking too bright at the moment.
    So if it’s any consolation, you’d probably be just as stressed out if you were here. lol
    Keep your chin up and hug the wife for being so supportive. ๐Ÿ™‚
    (and at least they’ve started filiming on Transformers 2 so you have that to look forward to!)

  71. Anonymouse said, on July 9, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I thought you loved your job a few entries back, joking with the chinese girl and stuff.
    I am willing to guess the reason Az hates his new job its because of a suddent appearance kancho assassins. It has been too long ever since he taught at the ghetto school and his senses have weakened.
    Plus you cannot compare the expertise and potency of a jr. high student to that of a elderly japanese master.
    You know this to be true.

  72. Billy said, on July 11, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Since it sounds like your wife is so set on visiting, you should at least take her to a shooting range while you are here. Think of all the wonderful clint eastwood sterotypes that will be smashed.

  73. lmh said, on July 13, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Have you ever thought of working in an international office at a university? Which university did you study abroad at? Maybe since you have a connection with them, you can inquire about a job in the international office? Just a suggestion

  74. Giovanni said, on July 13, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Hey AZ..First of all I enjoy reading your entries.
    I just wanted to remind you about moeko`s owl ( I think that`s her name )

  75. Captain Fong said, on July 14, 2008 at 3:51 am

    That’d be cool if you moved back to America.
    Of course, what would be even cooler is if your wife starts her own internet blog on how crazy American’s are.

  76. Noonan said, on July 14, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Hey Azreal, this is my first comment. I had read up on all your articles here on GaijinSmash over the past year, and finally, I feel I’ve got something valid to comment on.
    I can relate to how you feel with “regression” or stepping backwards in the career life. I’m a freelance artist looking to go into heavy construction. Mainly for the money. Pays good, I’ve done construction work before. Don’t like it, but I’ll do it to pay the bills. And I’d do it ’til I have a lot of money banked too.
    The big thing that I’m keeping in mind as I’m waiting to confirm a job as a dump truck driver is that I’ll have some free time here and there to work on what I like to do. Gotta keep focusing on what I desire, and that’s the key word.
    I’ve got a lot of things to work on in the meantime while I drive a truck around a quarry during job time. It’s a means to an end. I know what my end result is going to be. Hope yours keeps you going, even through the hard times.

  77. Scalenex said, on July 14, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Perhaps you want to consider teaching high school or gradeschool. MAYBE it’s not teaching but it’s junior high students who annoy you.

  78. C.Williams said, on July 16, 2008 at 11:17 am

    As a black guy who also brought his wife from Japan to the land of the flailing Eagle, I do feel for you. Ive been a reader for a long time, and I think you guys will be just fine over here. Send me an email if you have time, and I will be happy to talk more to you about it. Take care, and don’t let them gomasuri you into dust.

  79. Daryl said, on July 21, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Hey Az, long time no write! Whats happening on your side of the world?

  80. Anonymous said, on July 22, 2008 at 5:08 am

    On a supportive note from a complete stranger; I would be one of the first in line to buy a book you write, if it came out over here and I heard about it. You’re writing style is wonderful, a mix of tugging heartstrings and quirky humor that makes it a much better read than most published works you find.

  81. Anonymous said, on July 22, 2008 at 5:08 am

    On a supportive note from a complete stranger; I would be one of the first in line to buy a book you write, if it came out over here and I heard about it. You’re writing style is wonderful, a mix of tugging heartstrings and quirky humor that makes it a much better read than most published works you find.

  82. K said, on July 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    With the economic situation USA is in, you might be better off staying in Japan. Then again.. there has be a rise in random stabbings there now…

  83. Hamish said, on July 24, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Hi. I discovered yr site today and like it. I too am an English teacher in Japan and do a bit of writing. Re. writing, I’d like to suggest to you and anyone else who can make it to Namba monthly on a Sunday night that they join a group of writers at Reading Words. See What we do is go to the Dragonfly Cafe and read something we wrote, or just listen to others read something they wrote or something someone else wrote. Some of the people who read their work have been published and know publishing companies and sometimes some magazine writers come along, but if you don’t fit into any of those groups it’s cool, the group is very uncompetitive and welcoming. We will be meeting on 7/27 at the Dragonfly Cafe. The Dragonfly has a site and it can also be found advertised at, etc.
    Have you also tried Four Stories is an event put on by a N.Yorker three times a year in Umeda on a Sunday night at Portgualia, a restaurant in Umeda. It and the restaurant have been covered in Kansai Scene Magazine. At Four Stories four published writers read their stuff to a big audience of listeners and the audience can then ask them questions.
    Both Reading Words and Four Stories are great.
    Keep writing and keep on keeping on.

  84. Aaron said, on July 25, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Where the hell you been Az?!

  85. BZou said, on July 27, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Goodluck man, and hang in there. I am sure things will work out if you put enough effort into it. And I hope you and your wife can get to America without problems with the office and their stupid policies.
    Again goodluck.

  86. aquarake said, on August 2, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Haven’t read in awhile, congrats on the marriage. ๐Ÿ™‚

  87. Aaron said, on August 7, 2008 at 3:16 am

    To share my experience, I am an American living in Japan, married to a Japanese woman, about to move back. It took *1* month from submitting the I-130 petition (step 1 in the Visa process) to getting the visa for my wife. I assume we had a lucky case, but I am just saying it may not take as long as you or others expect. It did cost $800. Also I am a programmer, and I have a decent amount of assets back in the states (car I fully own, 401k, savings), so that helped.
    If I can offer some advice, many (most?) gaijin here don’t have any real experience working in their home country, so don’t listen to those people. Working in Japan is ABSOLUTELY AWFUL compared to the states unless you are really lucky. The pay is insulting and the working conditions are third-world.
    I don’t know about writing, but my line of the work in the states pays, literally, 2x as much, if not more. And thats before considering cost of living differences. Considering that fact, and the fact that staying here is hurting your future career prospects, that is a HUGE economic reason to move back.
    One other reason to move back would be the people. I don’t know if this is a problem for you or not, but generally I’d say the gaijin that come here to teach English start out kinda weird and only get weirder with time. I think its like a “weirdness” echo chamber. Consider that it may be “healthy” for you to be around a more diverse, and normal, selection of people.
    Finally, there are a lot of good things about the states that your wife will enjoy. If you do move back, make sure you take the time to introduce her to those good things. Some things my wife liked: SHOPPING ;), INSANELY fresher and cheaper produce, more diverse selection of restaurants, driving, family home-cooking, etc.

  88. Cameron said, on August 11, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I think her culture shock will be less than you imagine, but yours may be much more. It sounds like you’ve never returned to America after an extended stay, you’ve never, after acclimating to another country much more smoothly than everyone would assume, returned to your own homeland to find that it’s bewilderingly, offensively alien to you. But haven’t you met other military brats who turned into resident expatriates because of this?
    It’s possible your friend Ms. Americanized was going through that, though it’s easy to just dismiss it with, “Oh, she just likes America, who wouldn’t?” Who wouldn’t? Well, I didn’t, for the five years it took for me to get adjusted to being back in it. It’s a rough time, even if you think you missed it.

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