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I wonder why people want to hear about my life in Japan. Am I that much of a curiosity?
Above all, I have been surprised to find that after a month of experiences, I have little to report.
While I still have many things to learn, learning new things happens so often that it has become standard.
And to me...standard is nothing to report. But the most standard question that I have received is...
"What do you eat?"
Not a stranger to Japanese cuisine before I moved, this strikes me as a silly question.
But outside of offense, I see the ease of comparing lives through the multicultural phenomena of eating food.

The answer: I eat less beans and peanut butter but more rice and tofu, yet still the same amount of sushi.
I always explore new tastes, but still can't bring myself to willingly eat pork, beef, or... whole crunchy fish...really?
After several failed attempts at Japanese cooking, at home, I find myself cooking my standards:
pasta with tomato sauce, garlic, whole veggie salads, and BBQ marinated tofu.

I've been happy to absolve myself from writers block, and oblige your interest in distinguishing our lives.
For more content and earnest reflection, a satiating blog shall follow later this week.

Daily Commute

While there are a multitude of things to discuss about my surroundings and experiences here in Japan, I have been too busy to recount and formulate any interesting writings. Instead, I bring you to the daily commute that has kept me busy since Monday. This is the way from my bed in Yotsukaidō to A.L.S. Head Office in Minamifunabashi. After many hours of review, I hope to complete the intensive training tomorrow afternoon - thereafter I will enjoy some R&R&R ( the third R as found in wRiting) until I meet my school and classes next Tuesday!

Click (Or Copy) Here:
Zoom in and out - It's fun!!!

Arriving & Arigato

Overcoming my flight anxiety and enduring the 14 hour flight to Japan proved easier than I had imagined. It is not a commute that I would take on a regular basis, but movies, naps, writing, more movies, and assorted meals boosted enjoyment in my temporary home. If flying to Japan were not enough, there were several indications that there are, indeed, some difference between the USA and Japan. With ears tuned to the foreign announcements, I attempted to hear at least one word that I could understand… “Arigato!”  So ended a stream of words that helped me reflect on everything for which I have to be thankful. As my Continental flight landed early, I stretched around the bowing heads of my fellow passengers to catch a look at the area surrounding Narita airport. As if expecting alien structures, I was surprised to find similarities…Trees…Buildings…Roads. That comfort continued, and thankfully, it was smooth sailing through de-boarding, immigration, and customs. I made my way to the arrival gate with eyes searching for the man I had planned to meet. My language school had arranged this meeting and pick-up, but as I checked the time, 14:00, I imagined that I would have to wait for a while. With curiosity scratching at my legs, I paced the airport lobby - North, South, up escalators, and down the elevator. I saw families bowing to meet each other, shocked cowboys and US families trying to find their next move, and a number of other wandering international visitors. Finally, just when I thought that I could not search for him any longer, I sat, and turned on my laptop. Before I had the chance to check for an internet connection, I glanced up to see an American-looking man who pointed me out … “Kevin?”

After exchanging greetings and a walking introduction to his work with the company, I relayed my excitement for this move and starting work as a teacher. During this introduction, I was informed that with the late pickup, I had exactly 5 minutes to catch the 3:00 PM train to Yotsukaidō, where I would be staying at a guesthouse during my next week of training. With 100+ pounds of bags toting, I accepted his help to venture outside my wandering area, towards the train. I was familiarized with the correct train line, and bought my ticket. The next half hour was spent in debriefing as I learned this man would be one of my teaching supervisors and contact throughout my stay at the guesthouse. As I had mostly been communicating electronically, it felt great to talk in person about the details of my move and work. With eyes darting out of my conversation from time-to-time, I searched the land as my train pushed through densely wooded areas, smaller towns, and rice fields. There is an unimaginable beauty in Japanese architecture and landscape.

Still toting bags, we made our way out of the ticketed area. Noting differences from my usual North Jersey Coast Train Line, I exchanged interested looks with the passing uniformed schoolchildren.  I enjoyed a walking tour of the town as we made our way through school check-in and introduction to the guesthouse. I was also introduced to the only other guest, a young South American woman. I took a few minutes to rest and change, but as it was still shy of 5 PM, I hopped online to check-in with family and facebook. I wondered how I would stay awake for another 5+ hours until my housemate offered to walk around town with me. I confirmed the placement of the 7-11 Department Store, the 100-Yen Store, Fire and Police Departments, and the numerous bakeries and restaurants in this little Japanese town. Although withstanding some pain from the ankle I sprained a few weeks ago, it was much easier to walk around without baggage. Then in search of dinner, we settled on a curry house and I stumbled my way through the ordering process. Once we were served our separate curry concoctions, I noted in delight that my rice, tofu, and okra curry was fresh and tastily spiced. After a wonderful meal and conversation, I nervously worked my way through a few customs, and graciously walked out with my company.

I wondered what the Japanese ate for breakfast, but settled on buying my standard bananas, yogurt, and granola from the supermarket. I still can’t read the labels, but am figuring out the pricing and buying process. The importance of customer service is highly apparent in Japan. Even though I felt like a klutz searching for the proper monies, I sensed nothing but a smile. After ice cream in the food court, we ran into some other English teachers through happenstance. Introductions turned into a lengthy conversation. I felt the growing sense of community in this town, and enjoyed the insightful support, gossip, and developing friendships. Overall, Japan has been incredibly hospitable from the airport, to train, my company and community. There is a calming security here. This is not home, but with ease, I am enjoying the transition.

Reflecting from my EWR Nest

I have always enjoyed writing, but can never force myself to write. If the words do not flow from pen to script or follow the rhythmic tapping of my current keypad, I wonder if I have anything meaningful to ponder. Possibly, writers block is the result of too much reflection and not enough living. As it is constantly my attempt to live life ‘In the moment’, it is important to balance my time between in vivo experience and the web of theories and reflection that my mind spins during times of existential isolation. The weeks leading up to my departure did not allow for such quiet time. I am thankful for that. With only a fraction of force, I set my priorities and schedule to spend quality time with the family and friends that will be supporting me through this journey… and my lifetime ahead. Until I get such quality time with them again, I will remember driving with grandma and visiting my family in NJ & NY for parties, praise, and promises to keep in touch. I will remember all of the going away celebrations that were hosted in my honor. And I am truly honored to have received such esteem from coworkers. Last Monday-Friday was a firm affirmation of their blessing and love.

After spending a few days packing, I drove with dad to stay with family in New Brunswick, NJ. I was welcomed with another celebration. Sushi, Cake, and Pizza! I slept a few winks this morning as I waited and wondered… My father dropped me off at Newark International this morning a commendable three hours early. Without any delay in check –in or security, I had time to myself to sit wait, and mentally prepare myself for the journey ahead.  

So here I am nested in a quiet corner, waiting by myself, away from the supportive network of friends, family, and coworkers that has carried me this far in life. I am left to wonder how drastically my life will change between now, and the 14 hour flight to Narita, Japan. I hope that I will be so fortunate as to find the support and perseverance that I need to succeed as a teacher in Japan. Lessons from my former job as an Employment Specialist tell me that this will be a proper match to my work values and interests. Moreover, I have many transferable skills, gained from worldly travels and an optimistic outlook. Logically, I should have the confidence in my ability to succeed. After all, I am a self-directed achiever! But with heartstrings attached to my nest and homeland, the excitement and thrill that I feel for this long-term international expedition is also matched with a marked level of anxiety concerning the unknown. Nevertheless, I accept that my best option is to look forward to the future while remaining confident and hopeful.

Teaching in Japan

It is facultative knowledge that my verbal and written style is to communicate via ambiguity.
Regarding this recent announcement, my selfish Id has withheld certain bits of information without anticipating so many additional questions.
But Really, the details follow...
I will be leaving the country May 13th to start training for an English teaching position in Kimitsu City, Japan. It is a one year contract that I may extend... or not.
As the cycle of attachment and departure works, embarking on this adventure is bittersweet. I am sincerely thankful to feel extended support from my family, friends, and coworkers. Life is an evolving adventure, and I'm excited to continue living in a positive direction.
If you have the interest, I would be comforted to know that we could continue to share our life experiences. So: Call me; Exchange Tweets; Come visit online or in Japan; Whatever it takes to stay in touch!
Peace & K'Bye for now

An Introduction

I was born at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in Glens Falls, NY in 1986. Moving between towns and divorced parents, I never established a feeling for a hometown until I moved to Billings, MT at age 10. Embracing my surroundings was not an easy path for growth. Formerly, there were many times that I felt out of place, which ultimately led me to drop out of high school at 16. I knew that my situation, at the time, was not conducive to my success, so I immediately moved away from home and started my college career. I learned that sometimes, we must fight for our own success and seek a supportive foundation. With increased support through my newfangled friends in undergraduate, I regained trust in the world where I once felt shunned. This foundation, paradoxically, set me on a road to seek intense friendships, experiences, and adventure all over the world.

In that time, I held many jobs including mascot, student body president, and security guard. My active involvement has allowed me to challenge myself and my surroundings. One summer, after studying Chinese language, I traveled through China as part of my education. During projects and social conventions, I traveled across many states. With purpose, I volunteered with disadvantaged children in a Boston suburb, on an ecology project in the forests of Oregon, and exchanged meaningful conversations over games of canasta in nursing homes. All of this allowed me to make long lasting international friendships.

I continued to work and pay for school and acclimated to the world of academia through research and office assistance. The more I have experienced and grown, the more people and places I yearn to encounter. This feeling led me back east to complete my Master’s in Counseling at Monmouth University in NJ. Here, I have learned yet another lifestyle and continue to enjoy life from the shore towns to my current station in Matawan, NJ.

In addition to my dedication as a student, status as a mathlete, and College Bowl champion, I also have a strong interest in athletics.  I could run from the ghetto to the mountains, enjoy hiking, camping, and skiing. Outside my work at a mental health facility, I enjoy trips to visit friends and family who share my passion for a multitude of activities. As an example, throughout two sleepless nights last month, I left a night of Broadway and clubbing in NYC to celebrate a friend’s wedding in a conservative Wyoming town. I am diversified and fully able to fit in wherever I go. To me, this is a product of my charismatic and positive personality. Instead of feeling closed in, I embrace change, and embrace the variety of life. Growing from poverty has taught me to appreciate my ability to dine in the company of high society. My rainbow of friends encompasses the full spectrum of humanity. This passes through a range of socioeconomic, religious, cultural, racial, and sexuality differences.

I appreciate my friends and online networks and understand the need to keep a respectful online identity. I religiously check my facebook several times a day from my stickered Toshiba. Moreover, I have been working to increase my 'Tweeting' and Blogging through increased use. When I am not distracted at work, most of this online networking happens amidst my multicultural household of friends and pit-bulls.

My thoughts race towards my newest adventure in life, and my desire to document these continuous adventures. Last week, I gave a notice of resignation to my boss after accepting a teaching position outside of Tokyo, Japan. With nearly everything in order, I am excited for a new personal and professional challenge. Moving forward, I will attempt to document my shifting perceptions. I hope you will consider my colorful world of experiences and appreciate my home-grown and authentic writing.