Things I get asked a lot and the general response that are given:
1. Are you a dependent of someone in the military?
A: No, I’m here by myself. Like a real life female capable of surviving in this scary, scary world. No, not really, I don’t say that though I would like to. I’m the anomaly here in Okinawa. So far I have not met one other non-military American woman that is single. If you know of any, please let me know. It would be nice to have someone to go out with.
2. Will you take our picture?
A: Hai. (yes.)
3. Why did you move to Japan?
A: I was bored. Why did you move to Sacramento? Exactly.
4. Do you drive on the wrong side of the road?
A: No, though I do drive on the opposite side of the road. The steering wheel is on the opposite side as well and the windshield wipers and blinker are reversed. Just because in the States you drive on the “right” side of the road does not mean that we drive on the “wrong” side.
5. Are the menus in English?
A. No, not unless you luck out and the English version is available, much like anything else. Maps, road signs, electric bill, food, directions on packaging, Japanese only my friends.
6. How’s it being surrounded by service people?
A. Honestly, most the time it’s fine. They are respectful, young, dumb kids that have been taught to call everyone ma’am and to pull my chair out. Which is awkward when you work at a restaurant and you’re trying to do it for them. But besides that, it has really opened my eyes to the military, what they do and don’t do, and what they actually have control over. They believe in their country more than anyone else, enough to give their life for it, so time to stop talking shit and figure out how to change what needs to be changed.
7. Have you had any problems at the restaurant?
A. Well problems how exactly. We have jerks that come in. The usually calm and respectful group can still get drunk and rowdy. Before I worked at the store, there was a young marine that came in and caused a HUGE scene. His commander found out and made him come bus tables for a week with no pay. That’s the kind of world I live in. Don’t screw up or be stupid because who knows who’s watching. The other massive issue at the restaurant is the communication barrier. I’m learning fast, but not fast enough. How are you, what’s your name, good, bad, left, right, 1 2 3 4 5 6 only get you so far with a staff that is primarily Japanese.
8. Do you eat sushi and drink sake everyday?
A. No and no. Though I do eat a LOT of sushi. It’s delicious and fresh and more often than not comes to you on a conveyer belt. What’s not to love. The legal driving limit here is .03 – which is about a beer. So a drink with dinner? Not unless you want to go to jail. And man, are they serious about it. We’re talking cameras in the bars, linked to the police stations so they can get your ass as soon as you turn the engine on. None of this for me thanks, I’d like to keep my license that I worked so hard for (hahahahaha – not really. I took a 30 question test).
9. Are you going to marry a Marine? Or a Japanese man?
A. These are not my only options here on this island and no, I don’t plan to do either any time soon. Though I have had to deny 2 people my hand already. No joke.
10. How do you make friends?
A. Slowly. On the Japanese side of things, it’s helpful that I have blonde hair and am from Texas. They love both of these things. On the American side of things, it’s very slow going. Most of the Americans here are men. The only thing they say to me is excuse me ma’am, here let me get that for you ma’am (at the grocery store, seriously.), Where’s my salad ma’am and sometimes a smile. Now, I would like to believe that they don’t talk to me because they assume I’m married or here with someone, not because they think I’m hideous. The other issue here is that I’m not allowed to hang out with employees. Yea, well. We’ll see about that. My favorite new friend story thus far is from New Year’s Eve. Beije and her husband both ran off for a few minutes at the same time. Ed asked, “you’ll be okay for a few minutes?” I turned around and said, “Yea, I’m going to make this guy talk to me.” Thankfully, the nice gentleman obliged and we are actual friends now.
11. How long are you staying in Japan? What are you doing after?
A. My contract is two years, so at least until September 2011. There is an option for a 3rd year, so we will see. After? After what, tomorrow? I don’t do plans well. Never have. I think that’s part of why I can pick up my life and move to Japan sort of on a whim. Maybe someday I won’t want to live my life like this, I just hope that day isn’t any time soon.
12. Don’t you get scared being there by yourself?
A. Of course. Especially when I’m taking a nap and am woken up because my house is shaking violently, thanks earthquake. Or when I can’t remember if I’m on the correct side of the road or not. Or when I’m going to a place that is far away from my house and get lost. A GPS in all Japanese tends to not help in this case. Moving to any new place is scary. I’m pretty thankful though that I was shipped off to a small Japanese island where I can still communicate with some of the inhabitants and can mostly figure out the meat aisle at the grocery store.
13. Don’t you miss home?
See, here’s where it gets tricky because I don’t want to offend anyone. Yes, of course I miss my friends and family. Who wouldn’t. At the same time, I do not miss Texas or the States in general…yet. I’m sure the day will come. I adapt to places at an abnormally fast pace, which can be both good and bad. I never get into the tourist feel of things saying, “Wow, look at that huge old building, church, castle, national monument, etc.” My body does this neat thing where it goes, yea of course that’s there you idiot, you’re in (insert country name here) and it never seems out of the norm to me. When this happened in my life, I have no idea. I’m sort of thankful for it otherwise, I would have been back on a plane to Texas about 5 weeks ago.
14. Do you have an ID or mailbox yet?
A. YES. Well, to one of those and I think you probably know which one. I’m not going to post my address on here, but if you would like it, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As far as the ID thing goes, I try not to get too down about it. Some of my friends have been dealing with this for 6 months and I’ve only been at it 8 weeks. Though, to be fair, it looks like they will have gotten two free vacations out of the deal by the time it’s all said and down so I’m not sure how awful it really is (just kidding Willett’s, I know you want an ID like you want a Moscow Mule on a hot summer day). Once again, I’ve been told they will be ready Monday and once again, while this news is exciting I try not to get my hopes up.
And that is that, love you guys.