And with that festive title,

HAPPY NEW YEAR! *Confetti* あけましておめでとうございま〜す!

Well, I got back to Japan on the night of Sunday the 7th. My vacation felt way too short. There were so many things I wanted to pick up or photograph to use in future classes, and I just didn’t get around to it. Didn’t get my hair cut either. But, I did get to see friends and family, eat pizza, tacos, and pastel de tres leches. And choco-flan. And–

lemme stop.

^o^; It was bad enough I was smelling people’s bentou as tacos al pastor. I need to get my mind back on my favorite Japanese food.

Tonkotsu ramen. Yudofu. Beni-imo flavored anything. Matcha Milk. Matcha Ice Cream.  Matcha Cheesecake Set.

From Kyo Hayashiya in JR Hakata City.

*Slaps self back to reality*

So, what am I thinking about in the New Year other than green tea?

Actually, this has been on my mind for a while. What made me ponder it again was something that happened with some friends who were visiting me at home. We had ordered pizza so I had gone to the kitchen to make sure we had enough plates and such. Meanwhile, my brother and 4 friends had started playing Tekken Tag Tournament. When I got back, I sat down. The loser of each round would pass the controller. It seemed like they had decided a play order, so I figured I’d just sit back and join in at the end of the rotation. But no one passed the controller to me, and since I knew I wouldn’t be able to do much anyway, I just sat back and watched and talked. Eventually, someone realized I wasn’t playing and asked me if I wanted to. I said that I could, and when someone asked me, “Why didn’t you say anything?” I said, “No one passed me the controller.” The response to that?

“You’re so Asian!!!”

@_@

Okay, so the whole “Asians are submissive” stereotype is at play here, even though I think it’s odd for someone to think that Asians would be like that among friends in an environment as familiar as someone’s house. What struck me on a personal level was how a behavior I’ve ALWAYS had — staying in the background in social situations — was suddenly perceived as the result of my living in Japan. I can’t even say I’m a wallflower, cuz I wouldn’t even go to the dance! But no one said I was Asian in high school.

This reminded me of how I was never, ever, eeeeeever told that I spoke English with an accent until I went to college, where for the first time the majority of my classmates were white, and only after they found out I hadn’t been born in the States.

I think people accept things as simple personality quirks until they think they have something to blame it on.

From the standpoint of the individual whose traits are in question, I do think culture can be and is often used as a shield for fear, or as a Get Out of Jail Free card. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I seriously hope that my students aren’t really suffering from a crippling shyness that prevents them from speaking out in class (as teachers would have me believe) and that they’re just using the national excuse not to speak.

Another example: I hate going to parties, but I don’t mind hosting them. Given my background in AmeriCorps, I could tell you that it’s because I love my fellow man so much, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to serve. 思いやりの心 and all that. But it’d be a big fat lie. The simple fact is, once a social gathering becomes something more than 2 people talking, I feel immense pressure to have to be entertaining. To exude charisma, animal magnetism, which I have none of. But if I’m the hostess, I can let the guests entertain themselves, while I hustle about getting food and drink, making sure everyone is comfortable, without actually having to hold a conversation, without having to be ignored or interrupted mid-sentence (something I hate, hate, hate, hate, haaaaaaate). In short, it’s easier to fulfill the role of Caring Hostess than of Personable Human Being. Well, if only I were judged as a Human Being, which would mean as a Man, it would be easier. But that’s a rant for another day.

Hm, before my train of thought becomes even more difficult to follow, I’ma just stop. >o<; I’ll try to be more Happy Fun Times in the next post. Maybe. Ahahaha…

For kicks, here’s a photo I took early Christmas Eve morning. (And now I’ve got Cyndi Lauper in my head.)

Forgot to resize the photo before uploading. Ahhhh...don't feel like it now. >o<;

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