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Monday, June 5, 2017

Q & A With A Reader

I wasn't aware that I had fans... readers, sure... but a fan?

Reader Josh is a self-professed fan of this blog - thanks, Josh! Right back at ya!

He asked if I ever do Questions and Answers with fans or if I would consider it.

Truthfully, I have lots of Questions and Answers with readers who have become since become my friends. I just don't broadcast the questions or the answers in the same way they ask them. Many do become blogs.

But... ever since I went to Japan on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, I made one promise to myself: If someone asked me a question in English, no matter what they asked, I would answer it truthfully.

Granted that was done for the Japanese, but what the heck... I take the mickey out of myself here in this blog because that is also what I did when writing the original Rife stories back in 1990-1993.

Honesty and fascination with Japan - to show that as screwed up as we gaijin (foreigners) thought Japan was, it was also a means to show how screwed up our own cultures were in return... in other words, we're all screwy to someone else.

Here are Josh's questions:

1) Since leaving Japan-have you thought about going back? You seem to write a lot about Japan, but have you visited since you left your teaching program?

2) Besides Japan, what other culture do you have fascination of?

3) We have heard the good, but what is the worst thing about living in Japan as an expat?

4) After playing the field in Japan, could you give some deeper insight into your love life post-Japan? Did you settle down or were you still into casual hookups before you met your wife?

5) Is your current wife Japanese?

6) I understand your lay count was 30 in those 3 years in Japan. Did you have more sexual relations after when you came back to your hometown?

My answers:

1) Of course I have thought about going back to Japan... but not to live. That part of my life and opportunity to live there disappeared when I could not convince Noboko to be with me.

I have not yet returned, but like General Douglas MacArthur, I shall return - one day. I would like to take my son there - just to provide him with an experience... but... and this is a big but... would he appreciate it as much as I did in my late 20s? Or would it change his outlook on the world at a younger age? It depends on the person, doesn't it?

I wasn't ready for the world until I was at the age of late 25. Every person is different in how they prepare for things.

For example, I make no bones about the fact that I originally had no interest in going to Japan and only did so because I thought applying to JET would be a great way to get together with a woman I liked who was also applying. I got in, she didn't and it's just as well anyhow. I never had a chance with her, because who I became in Japan was someone completely different than who I was when I left.

I would like to go back... but I'm also wary that what I recall and what I'll see will be two completely different experiences... everyone will be ooooolllllld.

2) I never had a fascination for Japanese culture. I do now mostly because I needed a creative outlet for myself and writing and chose Japan. As a writer... always write about what you know.

Though... I do also write about 1919 and earlier aviation... and I know nothing about aviation, dislike heights and am not mechanically inclined. But I do like history and I do like discovering new things and I do like sleuthing out fact from fiction... even from history as recently as 100 years ago... so much misinformation.

Other cultures? Sure... I have a fascination for the Egyptians, Mayan, Aztec and Incan cultures... all at one time the top of the heap... and then nada... I love their architecture... religion... foods, way of life.

I do love history, so I have read up on the Greeks, Romans, Canadian, British, American, most of European... and I am severely lacking Slavic, Baltic, Chinese and India, and native and other aboriginal histories.

As a kid I was in love with the adventures written and drawn by Carl Barks in the comic books Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck - still am. They fueled my love adventure, as did the Hardy Boys, Batman, Richie Rich (really) and scores of other comics. Dungeons and Dragons, too. Star Trek... classic nerd, except that I didn't have asthma and liked and did well enough at sports. I have coached soccer, hockey and now baseball. Still head coaching a Select team. We aren't very good, but the goal is to make everyone better and have fun doing so.

And yeah... before leaving for Japan... I did live in my parents basement.

Paul Doherty is a favorite writer I read. For insight on Egypt, check out his Egyptian Mysteries, centered around the character of Amerokte, the chief judge of the temple of Ma'at, who becomes the investigator of conspiracies against the 15th-century BC Queen Hatusu.
  1. The Mask of Ra (1998)
  2. The Horus Killings (1999)
  3. The Anubis Slayings (2000)
  4. The Slayers of Seth (2001)
  5. The Assassins of Isis (2004)
  6. The Poisoner of Ptah (2007)
  7. The Spies of Sobeck (2008)
I've read them all... each provides real details into the daily life of Egypt. He's a wonderful author and a wonderful person, I wrote a fan letter to him via e-mail and mentioned how I lost a few of my copies in a house fire... darned if he didn't personalize and sign and send many of his books to me - at his expense.

I'll never forget his generosity and kindness. And the books are smart, too.

But really... it all began with the Uncle Scrooge comic book: The Crown of the Mayas:

This isn't my copy above, but I have several versions of the story, including my very well-read original copy. The stories might have been written for kids, but creator Carl Barks treated the kids as though they were smart enough to "get it".

I was eight-years-old or so when I first came across a reprint of this story. I then began to scour the National Geographic magazines my family had been subscribing too, urging my dad to buy the hardcover books on the various ancient cultures.

I wanted to be an archeologist way before Indian Jones hit the screens. In fact... that opening scene with the giant stone ball rolling down... (Star Wars and) Indiana Jones creator George Lucas says he borrowed heavily from a similar scene in Uncle Scrooge #7. He even wrote the introduction in a recent hardcover reprint. I believe this scene is from The Seven Cities of Cibola.

3) What's the worst thing about living in Japan as an expat? Things have changed a fair bit since then, but really it's the language barrier.

The inability to read for me...

I love to read... and to watch television... but before the Internet, I was screwed. No comic books!!!!

I had some sent over and great friends like Kristine and Matthew would sometimes send some my way... but not being able to read and know what was going on in the world of comic books hurt.

When Sandman #1 came out a few months before I left for Japan, I bought the remaining four copies the store had because it was the best comic book I had ever read. It's written by (now) author Neil Gaiman.

Okay... the very worst thing about Japan is the inability to communicate and to have yourself be heard correctly by a society that doesn't always believe in personal communication while at work.

I was lucky. The Ohtawara Board of Education office was progressive and very responsive to my needs and my emotions. Not every person got as lucky as me... in fact, I'd bet few did or even now are as lucky.

Back then there was no Skype... I communicated back to Toronto via letter and by phone at weird hours... and it was expensive.

Now... people are an e-mail or IM away... or a video blog or Skype away from communicating with family.

Despite friends - who have their own life, too - the Japanese are just like they are in most cultures (including Canada)... when you're home, you're home and there's little interaction with the rest of the neighbors. Which was fine for me...

I'm a bit of a loner... I like being by myself, despite enjoying the limelight. I'd still much rather be sitting in front of a computer screen writing, vegging playing Skyrim on the PS3 (hate the PS4... ) or watching a hockey game or coaching the kid's baseball team (limelight).

Being bullied as a kid, I enjoy taking my never fractured mind out in the open to ensure all kids get a fair shake in playing games. I was only bullied in high school, and sports and comic books were my outlet. I grew a foot taller and starting standing up... always glad to take two to get one in - if you know what I mean.

But, Josh... if you are wondering what is it about Japan that irks me... it's the bullying aspect... from the Top boss down to the poor bugger on the bottom... there's bullying.

The bullying exists with Japanese racism... against the poor farmer kids, to those who have ONE foreigner parent (ha-fu), to those who have lived abroad and don't seem to fit in... the bullying exists.

I never even talked about how men still act dominant over women (get me some o-cha/green tea!) at work and at home... how women don't get fair pay for their work... how they are still treated like play things for the men.

That last phrase may sound hypocritical as it relates to myself, but I can assure you it doesn't....

4) When I got home in 1993, I was still so very much in love with Noboko... and never had eyes for anyone else... even though we were separated by an ocean and a stiff Japanese society. It wasn't until my mother died a year later that I said screw it all.

My parents - 55 years old - an age I am fast approaching - were saving for that rainy day... a day that never came because of my mother's death... so what was the point of it all?

I went to the gym at the urging of my friend Nigel, began working out two hours a day, six days a week, grew my hair down close to my waist, took supplements - over and under the counter - got real big, was in the best shape of my life at the age of 35... and began using all that with my ability to communicate, and make people laugh... to date exotic dancers... knowing full well that the toughest type of woman to date would actually be a waitress at a strip club. So I did. Twice.

I slept my way through 40+ more women... and unlike Japan, I had to be the aggressor and ask them out. I'd give them a business card, and 9x out 10 It'd be nothing, but that 10th time, they'd call me.

I had created my own card - writer - on it.

I'm not going to go into details, but I dated women who were not part of the above ground way of life, rather part of the neon way of life.... the so-called underground.

I drank a lot - still didn't do drugs, except for whatever stuff I was using at the gym - I was that guy who looked like the big tough guy who was in shape (even though I am above-average tall, no one would mistake me for being tall), who looked and dressed well... I was a metrosexual before the term was invented... still had the long hair (straight at the top, wavy in the middle and ringlets - all natural - at the bottom)... so let's just leave it there.

5) I met my wife on a telephone dating service... I had a job, a car, a condo, was in shape, had the hair, and I could make you laugh. I was looking for a specific type, however... simply this: I like smart women. Naive is okay, stupid is not.

I got 35 messages (33 from women), responded to all (except the guys) - it was a site for men seeking women for a serious relationship... went on a few dates... talked to a few - who seemed to want to try and impress me with the sexual abilities with toys and vegetables - but like I said... that doesn't tell me how smart you are.

My wife and I met on Friday the 13th, which will explain a few things... but no... she is not Japanese. I'm not hung up on race or hair color or even body type. Smarts... not brains and IQ... smarts. It you are smart, you'll know what I mean.

After meeting that evening, she fattened me up over the next couple of years...  I went from 180lbs to 220lbs, so no woman would ever look at me again... a smart plan of hers that worked. Damn my ideals!

6) My lay-count? Uh... I have a count... you can see a rounding off it it above... but closer to triple digits than half a century... which, Josh... ultimately means nothing... except that I was damn lucky I never caught an STD over the years... even with a condom... who the fug knows...

Having massive amounts of sex does not make one great, I can assuredly state here and now... though I probably thought it did when I was a virgin when I arrived in Japan.

All I ever wanted, was to be loved. I was always unsure if I was. That's what being bullied can do to you... create self-doubt about your own worth in society... and it still exists even after screwing 70+ women.

Lots of women sure... but why wasn't there a relationship... what's wrong with me... see what I mean? I had that thought often in Japan until I met Noboko... and when it all fell apart and my friends Matthew and Jeff - whom I met that second day on JET - each had married beautiful Japanese women... why not me... see, Josh... that's how self-doubt creeps in.

Then after my mom died... I really did verbally screech screw it... and had as much sex with as many different woman I could get a hold off... and to make myself seem like a real big man, they all had to be beautiful strippers or whatever... look what I got... yeah... I'm with her.

Guys would look at me and figure I was either rich or well-hung... sure, if by well-hung you mean personable... yeah... despite going down this road, I still maintained the non-a$$hold factor... mostly.

So... now you have a better idea of who Andrew is... I did reveal pieces of myself when I wrote another blog, How To Survive Women under the name of Mister Manfred Mann... but I deleted it from the Internet a couple of years ago. MMM claimed to be on his fourth wife, but I'm still on the first.

It's also why I write this blog every day...

Thanks for asking such interesting questions, Josh.

Viva la nerd,
Andrew Joseph
PS: I Know General MacArthur was returning to the Philippines, not Japan.

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