My boss is taking my coworkers and I out for dinner in half an hour and I am sitting here in my room trying to read some fashion magazines. A friend is coming over for tutoring tomorrow, and if I finish reading them in time I can pass them off to her. The tempting thing is to just pass them off and not read them at all.
One of the realities of being an ex-pat is that we may or may not be aware of what is going on back in our home countries. The glory of the information age means we actually can stay on top of things if we choose. Overall, I would say I am pretty on top of current events, from the serious (a missing jet from Malaysia) to the frivolous (apparently everyone hates the latest Bachelor). But I can’t say that for everyone. One coworker is about to return to the States for the first time in two years, and a week ago I heard him express surprise that Americans without healthcare will now pay a fine. It’s old news in the U.S., ridiculously old news, but while I knew about that piece of legislation, I can’t say I’m on top of everything. Some things, like fashion, I really didn’t care about then and I really don’t care about now. I mustered enough energy to care about for a little while, but well, let’s just say my fashion style is classic and in part that is due to laziness. I don’t want to follow the latest trends. Sometimes that is because I don’t want to spend money, and sometimes that is because you will never be able to convince me that overalls, leopard print, sandals with socks, or jumpsuits is a flattering look. I don’t have energy to argue with you about this, so I’m just going to ignore you.
The reality of being an ex-pat is that we have a lot of other stuff already going on over here. I spend a lot of time processing conversations and anticipating conversations and thinking about how to communicate thoroughly. I spend a lot of time studying the local language. I even spend a fair amount of time trying to absorb the local form of love, for as I wrote in the post The Five Love Languages of Japan (https://jilidachristiansen.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/the-five-love-languages-of-japan-2/), the ways the locals show love might not be the way I understand it best, and I have to meditate deliberately on the heart behind the actions that on the surface do nothing for me. There is an entire world here. Japan has its own fashion to keep track of, one that differs significantly from that in the States. The thin, stick straight, boyish figure is rampant here and fashion is cut to those dimensions, not the stocky, muscular, hour-glass shape that is my body. Here in rural Japan a woman does not show bare shoulders, but skirts that barely graze the bottom of the tush are deemed acceptable. That doesn’t work on my body, in fact, little works on my body. I’m too curvy for this country. At 5’5″ I’m too tall for this country. And my feet (8.5) are too big for this country, except sneakers where I can cheat and wear mens’. And unfortunately the 18 month old American fashion magazines sitting on my shelf feel so incredibly far away from my current existence that it is hard to take them seriously.