Scooter vs Japan

Guide Posts | July 31, 2015

Hopefully this one won’t be mopie or depressing.

I’m sitting in my hotel right now, a bit after midnight. I just finished watching this weird coming of age sorta not really film, and the other day I watched Terminator Genisys. And for the last few weeks, every single person I talk to has asked me the same question; “How long are you going for?” Or “when are you coming back to Canada?” What the hell do these four things have in common?

I can’t remember when I started learning Japanese; it’s that long ago. It was towards the end of high school. I’m almost 32 now (fuck I’m old). For about half of my life, I’ve had my eyes on the prize, and that prize was JET. As long as I can remember with Japanese, I’ve wanted to be a JET. I’ve remained flexible and taken life as it’s been dealt to me, but I’ve always been looking to JET with an almost single minded devotion.

JET was the reason I went to university (well, that and roleplaying games, but that’s a very confusing tangent). JET is the reason I stayed with Japanese, even through the troubled marriage allegory I occasionally joke about. JET is why I want to become a teacher. It’s why I took my TESOL program. It’s why I’m still single. It’s why I’ve perhaps made far to many decisions the way I did. I have used JET to try and plan out my entire life and career. And although things took a few years longer than they maybe should have, I think it’s worked out pretty well. Through thick and thin, through all the BS and problems I’ve been facing over the last several years, it was JET that kept me going.

So now that I’m a JET, and I’m about to return to Japan for the third time, everyone’s asking me when I’m coming back to Canada, or how long I go for. When I got accepted, I explained to people that it’s a 1-5 year contract, or that there’s work available in Japan after JET. Now, I just tell everyone that I don’t know. Because I really don’t.

In Terminator Genisys, John Connor (time Jesus) used his mother’s knowledge of the future and his paranoid upbringing to plan the resistance against Skynet, the unhappy supercomputer that keeps kicking sand in humanity’s face. He was seen as a genius when he’s really just a cheating dick. Anyways, when Kyle Reese (his homie) was about to go back to the past to protect Sarah, John’s mother, from an assassination attempt by Skynet, he was asking John about the future. John explained that from that moment, he didn’t know anymore.

In seven days, you will–Wait, wrong movie.

In this movie I just watched, the same thing happens, except without all the time travel and robot body builders. This kid graduates from high school and goes off the college. Before leaving, his mom has a bit of a breakdown (because parents really like losing their shit when their kids become functioning human beings). She was upset because she didn’t know what to do now. She got married (and like, thrice divorced), had kids, got a PhD, landed a good position at a college, raised her kids up who had now all gone on to college, and had moved into an apartment, no longer needing a large house for her family. She broke down because she didn’t know what to do now, a question that also kind of troubled the protagonist, who felt pulled in every direction growing up.

That’s sort of where I am right now (except without my kids leaving home, or a rogue AI trying to kill my mother). Now that I’m a JET, I don’t know what to do or where to go. I don’t have a guidepost to look to anymore. I don’t have a path to follow. That doesn’t mean my life is over. No. I want a family and I still need to establish a career post-JET. What I mean is that I’m not chasing anything anymore in the way way that I’d been chasing JET.

When people ask me how long I’m going to be in Japan, the answer I want to give is “as long as it takes.” I need to figure out where to go from here. I don’t know what to do anymore, and I need to ride out JET or whatever other position I can get until I find that answer.

And I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. Did JET become like a road trip, where the journey was more important than the destination? Have I been following it too closely that I haven’t been thinking about other options? Am I now free to choose my fate? I don’t know.

Again, this isn’t the end of the line. But it’s not the beginning either. I’m not even sure if it’s a middle. I guess it just is.

What he said.

So here I am, staring up at the ceiling of my hotel room. For the first time in my life, as far back as I can remember, I have no idea what to do. But I think this time around, I might just see what happens. At least, that sounds like a great idea to 1AM sleep-dep Scooter. I dunno. Maybe it is a good idea. Maybe it’s a horrible idea. Maybe that’s the point.

Coming Soon on Scooter vs Japan

I’m gonna talk about toilets and construction equipment. And maybe Skype. Probably something profound in there. We’ll see. Stay tuned.

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Posted in JET, Living

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About author

Scooter is an ESL teacher and Japanese anthropologist. He hopes to document his thoughts of living in Japan, continued cultural studies, and to provide advice for others looking to hop the pond.

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