Monday, April 4, 2011

I live in Japan

I can finally believe that I'm here.

In Japan, that is.  When I applied to participate in the JET program, I couldn't fathom actually getting that phone call and hearing someone tell me that I was going to live in Japan.  Even when I did get that phone call, and when I got on the plane, and for months, there was a strange distance between my reality and my brain.  It still hadn't clicked that I was on the other side of the world and that, honestly, I had been chosen. 

Perhaps being an actor set me up for this lengthy period of disbelief.  I've spent a lot of time being rejected and a lot of energy bolstering myself to maintain a healthy spirit in the face of rejection, as that is a significant part of working in entertainment.  Though it's not healthy and was not my intention, I made rejection my expectation so I could protect myself from disappointment.  I tried to be better, to forgo all expectation and just live my life, to put value on simpler things, but I continue to strive toward that healthier self.  Instead I just created a decent shield.  I tried to convince myself that I didn't need success to feel satisfied, but I discounted the deserved fruits of a job well done, fruits I had not enjoyed in too long.

I've walked on and in so many amazing sets, the best in the world, at the Warner Bros. lot, where everything is illusory.  I've seen people gasp and gaze in disbelief at a shiny wall that they thought was the ocean, Styrofoam that played snow, and great facades that led only to tiny spaces with views of two-by-fours.  I've spent all day in a giant hotel in Vegas only to walk outside and find myself in Culver City.  All these months, I've felt like I was on a set.  I've actually touched things and been surprised they were real.  I look at the beautiful sloping Japanese rooftops and have to remind myself that it's not Styrofoam cut and shaped into tile.   I came from a world where everything is fake, to a world where everything is different.  You can see how I might get the two confused.

But now, I'm really here.  I have a real life here. 

Last week many teachers left, and this week many new teachers arrived.  I think the confidence I've gained from not being the person most foreign to the room has helped me.  Also, the disasters smack of reality.  Funny that it took a situation worthy of James Cameron to make me understand my reality better.  In all, I guess the scenes and the things and the people all seeped into me as I learned about them, and now I know enough to feel at home.  And I may look foreign to them, but to me, I could just be standing in Chinatown in LA or NY.  I'm in danger of being perceived as insulting, but it's just that I'm quite accustomed to looking at faces different from mine.  What reminds me that it's different is that I don't see any other colors of people.  I think I've seen two African American people since I've been in Japan and one Native American person.  What makes me know I'm in a foreign country is not that there are so many Asian people, it's that, where are all the other people?  In Tokyo, I guess.

Anyway, what I meant to say when I started was how fortunate I feel.  I have a husband who is willing and excited to join me in my adventures.  I have a beautiful child who excites my heart and my imagination.  And I'm living in Japan, something I wanted so badly.   I could exercise more and I need to figure out some health concerns, but otherwise things are really great.  Just about any complaint I've ever had has dissolved with my coming here.  My hours are wonderful, taking time off is easy, the money is good, Peter gets to work and watch Knox, I have amazing health coverage, I have time to write and study with very little interruption, the food and environment are more pure, there is a cultural atmosphere that supports sustainability, I am distanced from the political climate of hate in the US, I hardly even remember that gas prices were ever an issue - not because the prices are great, but because my car is so small - and the omiyage policy keeps me happily snacking on foods from around the country and the world all day, every day.

I'm 31, and I finally think that if, indeed, I am never a movie star, it might be ok.  ;-)

From Japan,
Tiffany

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