A Day In The Life Of An X Expat

After I’d read a few of the 52,200,000 “A Day In The Life Of An X Expat” articles that Google showed me, I thought I’d try my hand. They were all so interesting that they made me realize I’m an unfeeling, unthinking, insensitive, uninteresting, and unmotivated expat that needed to go out and get some experiences worth writing about too. Or at the very least invent some.

Because this morning I only took a shower and shaved. I have to shave everyday because puberty blessed me with a thick coat of wiry hair on both my face and chest. It paid the very same attention to my back and shoulders to make sure I would never need anything more than a thick shirt to keep warm. I never appreciated my genetic sweater, but so far God isn’t accepting returns.

After that I walked to the store and bought some bread, ham, lettuce, and a tomato to make a sandwich. I already had cheese, mustard, mayo, and pepper at home. They’re rebuilding the road and I saw the same old construction worker I see every day, with the tanned, leathery face of an ex-soldier. He waves his red flag and stops the cars for me. After weeks of nodding to him today he finally nodded back. I feel like I’m integrating into Japanese culture.

On the way back I pass an old lady who talked to herself about me in Japanese.

“So, there are even foreigners here too? Imagine that.”

Yes, madam, there are. Why, just last night I saw two more of us at the station, though in the fashion of foreigners here we acknowledge each other far less than any Japanese do. In fact, we tend not to acknowledge each other at all. I didn’t know this unwritten rule of foreignness when I first came to Yamanashi, but every non-Japanese person I met was kind enough to teach it to me. Anything resembling a friendly gesture was met in one of the following ways:

1. Looking away.

2. Giving a trite laugh and looking away.

3. Switching the conversation’s language to Japanese, giving a trite laugh, making a trite comment in Japanese, and looking away.

A German once heckled me. I know he was German because he told his friends that he was, in English, after I nodded to him.

“Look, he thought I was America. But I was like, NO, I’m German.”

I’ve only met three other Germans. My conversation with one went south after he started telling us how only idiots and American presidents believe in any form of religion. I’m still not sure why he brought it up. Probably something to do with President Bush’s mischief in Iraq. The other two were a wonderful old couple who immigrated to the U.S. to start their own business. I forget the business, but it was a success and they were wonderful. I suppose that 50% is about the same ratio of jackass as my hometown, so I can’t imagine Germany being very much different from the American South.

After I got home I made a sandwich for me and her, who had been over at the time. She took a nap after the sandwich. It being my day off, I played a video game before putting the ax to the grindstone and pounding out some writing. The clicking of my keyboard must have woken her up because she came back into the living room soon after I started. I guess she thought I hadn’t been doing anything.

You can’t ignore a woman when she wants attention, so that was it for writing this afternoon.

It’s night now. Day’s over. As I wrap things up, I hope my “A Day In The Life Of An X Expat” piece measures up to what I read. I made sure to include my feelings of alienation and isolation. My attempt to integrate into Japanese culture too. It even had some romance, though I’m not a romantic. Yes, a day in the life of an X expat is frightfully interesting, isn’t it?

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5 Comments on “A Day In The Life Of An X Expat”

  1. annamibananas
    February 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    Life is still mildly more interesting than mine!

  2. Shana
    February 12, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    I too have experienced the cold shoulder from fellow foreigners in Japan, and it drives me crazy! I’m sorry, I guess the 2% of us here is just 2% too much for you. I assumed that since I have no friends you might like to chat, but apparently you have friends enough. I have never been so lonely as in Japan, even when I lived in Orange County, so that’s saying a lot! Anyway, great observations!

    • introvertnathan
      February 13, 2014 at 12:59 am #

      Japan can get pretty lonely, can’t it? I survived my first year by getting addicted to an online game. A girlfriend fixed any loneliness soon after that. Then I found some friends, although strangely that took more time than romance.

  3. Rusty
    February 12, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    I really liked the article. The US has so many people living here from other countries it isn’t unusual to visit the mall and see people obviously from another country. Is it weird being basically the only American there?

    • introvertnathan
      February 13, 2014 at 12:49 am #

      Being American or anything else isn’t something expats here give much thought to. Our hands are already full not being Japanese. Japan has a long history of being in the shadow of other nations, be it China or the West, so it gives a lot of attention to its place on the international stage, along with what it means to be “Japanese.” Unfortunately, that’s had the effect of distinguish people by either “Japanese” or “not Japanese.” With a few exceptions, that’s what Japan is like.
      But being one of the few non-Japanese is only strange at first, after that it’s a fact of life.

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