Today at about 5:00, I saw a beautiful sunset outside, so I went to stand on my front porch to watch it. Sadly, I’ve not interracted much with my neighbors. It’s been one of the things I regret about living here in Tadotsu. One neighbor (who I say hello to occasionally) said hello and that it was really cold. As I continued to watch the sunset, a lady that I don’t think I’ve ever spoken with (who lives just a few houses down) passed and said the same thing: it’s really cold! She asked some stuff I couldn’t understand. Frustrating. It was probably very simple, but she said it in really casual Japanese (I think), so I couldn’t understand her. Something about not going today or “you’re not here, right?” I’m sure that my inability to communicate with her will cause rumors to spread throughout the neighborhood to not even talk to me, because I don’t speak a word of Japanese.
Anyways, one thing I did understand is that she asked if today was my day off. Obviously, if I’m outside with nothing better to do than stare at the sunset, this must be my day off. Sometimes, the business of Japanese society bothers me (I can’t assume her assumptions, but this could have been it).
It makes things even harder working as a vocational M. I mean, a lot of work is done in my house, and a lot of it at this time is studying Japanese (much of which is done in my house, at the moment). So unfortunately, this does not fit their cultural paradigm at all. And I feel really weird about it: like I’m some kind of bum or something who never goes to work. Because, that’s what men are supposed to do for 8-12 hours a day. In every way, Ms like me don’t fit any mold, which often makes things difficult. Getting into the Japanese social security system was bizzarre: who do I work for, my sender in the US, or Ayauta Kirisuto Kyoukai? The other day, when looking for a house, I was asked what my annual income is. I have no idea. Support that I receive sits in my account with MUP and is later transferred to my US bank account as pay. Then, I transfer that to Japan. So what is my annual income: the amount of support I receive, the amount I am paid in the US, or the amount that I transfer to Yen (my Japanese income tax is based only on what I transfer to Yen, not my total US income). To complicate things further, what about private English teaching? That’s an unpredictable beast, and students can come and go in a flash.
In short, when you’re me, no one can figure out what you do or who you are, especially government officials. Life is complicated. I do not look forward to tax season.