E-mails Japan - 日本 Việt Nam

E-mail to Sarita 9.8.2004

Dearest Sarita,
Congratulations on the engagement!  I’m extremely happy for you and wish you the best.  Please be certain to send me your address around the wedding date so I can send you a nice little exotic present from Asia. 
I always enjoy hearing from you and reading your insightful e-mails.  You are the only friend I have who can write an intelligent e-mail with no spelling mistakes and proper punctuation. 🙂  Also, it’s full of good solid information instead of those ridiculous forwards I often receive.  I also think it’s important to keep in touch with old friends and to be honest, you are the only one who I actually keep in touch with throughout the years!  Being abroad for the longterm causes many friends to fade away much more quickly.  I’m always astounded when I take the time to survey my life and realize that most of my friends are married (many with children), have houses and careers already!  I don’t like being considered an adult and prefer to think I stopped aging at 24.  Simply writing my true age and then acknowledging the numbers I’ve written is distressing. 
Also, congratulations on your first serious teaching assignment.  It makes me smile to think that a friend of mine is now a true teacher!  But then again, I realize that Tory Jacobs (remember her?) is a high school Spanish teacher, another friend is a high school French teacher and an old fraternity brother was actually my T.A. in my last year of college. (But that is another story all together.)  Again, I’m forced to realize that we are in fact adults.  You are well on your way to being a prestigious professor!  Congratulations. 
As for me, my life will also soon change dramatically.  I’ve decided to leave Japan and move to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam.  I was struggling the last few months of Japanese class trying to decide my next move when I took a Spring Break trip to Nam with an equally outgoing friend.  In Vietnam I discovered a paradise yet undiscovered by the world.  There are not so many tourists there due to the image of war and thus many beautiful beaches yet undisturbed by commercialization.  The people are extremely friendly even in the face of their insurmountable poverty and if we can accept that the beggars are just good people trying to make a living in their unjust circumstances then Vietnam truly is a paradise.  It was during spring break that my next move was revealed and I knew where I would go next. 
I have many clear headed reasons for such a move and I’ll share a few.  In Tokyo, if I chose to work in the business arena, then I would be a “Salaryman” who works all day long, is paid a lot but then must spend most of it due to the high cost of living.  This place is a concrete jungle and there is no room to think.  The #1 recreation here is drinking and that is no good for long-term health.  Also, Japan and America are mature markets while Vietnam has just unregulated (quite a bit anyway) and is growing very fast.  If I move there, I can: learn a new language, visit a beach with no tourists every weekend and thus think and write more easily, get a more exciting job where I make a difference, become even more knowledgable about the world.  Also, I have a few powerful Vietnamese contacts there including the son of the Chairman of the People’s party Ho Chi Minh, and the director of a computer company.  I’m going to stay at the directors house while I get settled with an apartment and job.  We actually met them by chance at a bar while on vacation.  They immediately took to us due to our outgoing personalities and ability to understand broken English easily. 
As for Americans, I understand your point all too clearly.  You probably don’t want to get me started on them but here it goes. I have no intention to ever go back to America and I actually don’t like associating with new American ex-pats.  Some of the long term ex-pats are ok but new ones are morons.  They are the most uninteresting, unknowledgable, monolingual buffons who actually support Prez. Bush!!!!  Nobody, and I mean Nobody supports President Bush abroad since his foreign policies have made the entire world unhappy.  My image of America is formed by the media and when I see so many people cheering for his rhetoric who understand nothing about what is happening makes me very sad.  I have almost come to believe that “the people” shouldn’t be allowed to govern themselves if half of America believes that Sept. 11th is related to the war in Iraq and Cheney can say things such as “If you vote for Kerry, then another terrorist attack will happen.”  I am thoroughly disgusted and have had thoughts of changing my nationality. 
As for pop-culture, I’m currently listening to the internet radio and the song is Outkast’s Rose which main lyric is “Roses smell like poo poo” or something like that.  American culture is going down with the speed of a 400 pound olympic diver.  When I return they always ask me if I’ve seen “The Bachelor” or Donald Trump’s show.  Actually, when I went back for a family reunion in Tahoe there was a show on called “Who Wants to Marry My Dad!!”  Needless to say, I’m never coming back to America if fortune is kind to me. 
Ok, I’ve written a novel.  Actually I’m due for a major website overhaul and I’ll put more writings and pictures up in the  months to come so you can keep tabs on me.  Sorry for my rants!!!
Hi M,
How have you been during the past few months?  I hope you’re continuing to enjoy Japan.  You have the most fun and exciting life of anyone I know.  Life has thrown us a lot of surprises and exciting things recently, so I wanted to fill you in!
First of all, Jorge proposed recently!  Our wedding is set for August 2005 in Austin, TX.  We are super thrilled and our families are delighted too.  Jorge even called my dad the night before he proposed to ask permission.  The next day we flew out to Cape Cod, MA, for a vacation with my family, so it was really fun to see them face to face and celebrate.
Jorge came to Spain to visit me while we were all there.  He and I were not dating at that time but he LOVES Spain and understands why I’m crazy about it. SO he shares my passion for international travel and getting to know new cultures, which is important. In fact, we were considering moving to Spain together a couple years ago, but then I was advised that I should just start my Ph.D. was I was still pretty young–after all, it’s a 5 to 6 year program.
Also, my folks have recently bought a home in the Austin area.  They are tired of cold winters on the East Coast, so they’re planning to move down here within the next few months.  Austin is so fun that everyone who visits us just loves it–and some people love it so much they decide to move here.
This summer was busy because I “taught” my first class to undergraduates.  It was a two-hour statistics and w
riting lab twice per week.  I had to prepare lectures to them about various topics, and also have them work in groups and advise them as they completed their research projects, etc.  It totally took over my life for about nine weeks, but it was an adventure and it was fun.  I’m doing the same class this fall, but the challenge is to balance it with my own classes and research projects.
I can see why you’re happy to be in Japan.  Americans in some ways are learning to just watch TV and not think for themselves.  It’s scary.  It’s better to take an active role in life, just like you are!  Anyway, can’t wait to hear about all you’ve been doing.
Talk to you soon.
E-mails Japan - 日本

E-mail to Mathias 8.20.2004


My classes at Waseda are finally finished and I’m very happy to not have to
go to those boring lectures anymore.  I think it’s time to study Japanese on
my own without the teachers troubling me with too many tests that I always
received a bad grade on.  : )

Now, I’m just teaching English at night, going to the gym and looking for a
job in Vietnam.  I have some friends there and think it would be a great
place to live due to the cheap prices and proximity of the ocean!  Tokyo is
too crowded for me and I need some peace and quiet.  My visa is until
October 10th so I’m hoping to find a job before then but it’s looking to be
a little difficult.  I’m positive that I’ll be in Vietnam in October though.

Your girlfriends English is very good and she made mistakes on just a few
parts.  I’ve corrected them and the document is now perfect.  I wish her the
best of luck in LA but tell her to be careful because LA can be a little
dangerous.  Also, eating too much American food makes people fat.

Finally, the election is coming up and my state OHIO is very important in
this election and the presidential candidates are spending a lot of time
there trying to persuade voters.  I’ve actually registered to vote and
hopefully my vote will help get that Putain Bush out of office forever.

Take care of yourself and good luck with your studies and job!!!
Vive le france!



> Salut M !!
> comment ca va ? Les cours a Waseda se sont bien termines?
> Pour moi tout va bien, ce sont les vacances d’ete, j’ai fini mon stage
> continue mon job pour gagner un peu d’argent. Tu fais quoi en ce moment?
> J’ai une faveur a te demander. Je sais plus si je t’en avais parle mais ma
> copine, Maki, a passe des examens pour faire un stage aux USA d’un an.
> vient d’etre acceptee et va aller a Los Angeles a partir d’octobre. Le
> probleme c’est qu’elle galere un peu en ce moment a cause de tous les
> papiers qu’elle doit remplir pour le visa et autres…
> Est ce que tu pourrais corriger le document ci-joint, c’est super
> pour elle? Si il y a des phrases qui te paraissent bizarre n’hesite pas a
> les changer, d’apres ce que j’ai compris ce document est tres important
> pour obtenir les papiers necessaires pour partir.
> Et si tu peux me le renvoyer corrige avant dimanche, je te serais
> extremment reconnaissant…Comme d’habitude tu seras mon sauveur, cher ami
> !!
> a bientot ,
> mathias

E-mails Japan - 日本

Letter to Sister 8.3.2004

Dear Homeless and Jobless in Main,

It has been a long time.  I was thinking that you didn’t have internet there
at camp.  Then I received your message and remembered how you said their
network may have nearly destroyed your computer last time.  Anyway, I’m glad
you wrote!

Good luck with the job situation and I hope you land somewhere you like with
your friend.  If it’s not possible, you are thinking of going back to Ohio?
That would probably be good for mom even though she must have gotten used to
us being away by now.  I would like to get home soon but life is at a
pivotal point at the moment.  My Japanese classes just ended about a week
ago and I have been sending resumes to Vietnam hoping to land something.  I
don’t know how my chances are but I’ll give it the old college try.  I am
pretty determined but I must find something before October 10th when my visa
expires or they will kick me out of the country.  It’s not so difficult to
get a new visa but I have to land a career building job and quit teaching
English since it’s not really beneficial for my future.

As for the reunion we all missed you quite a bit.  I heard you were pretty
funny when some turd tried to hit on you in Vegas.  Wish I could have been
there.  For me, it was nice just being back in the States and taking H
to all the things she has never done before like golfing, horseback riding
and jet skiing.  She really enjoyed herself.  The relatives are still the
same and haven’t changed much.

Also, you know that Nick was just here and he is having a good time
exploring Asia.  When he came with his friend, they really had no idea about
what they wanted to see or do, so I left them in the main part of Tokyo and
told them to go have an adventure.  I wasn’t about to play tour guide for a
week, and the strategy worked well.  They got along just fine in Tokyo and
had many enjoyable experiences.  Ever since he left for China I haven’t
heard from them.  I hope all is well!

So you are going to run a really long marathon!  Most excellent! I wish you
the best with that.  I’m sure you will do just fine.

Other than that, not much is going on here except the constant sending of
resumes and continued English teaching.  I’m a little anxious to be leaving
my life here but I’ve realized that this is not the place I want to build my
life.  The biggest fear is about leaving H.  We will try the long
distance thing but it’s still pretty much up in the air.  I guess that
sometimes pain is necessary for self development and if I always chose the
easy path then I would still be in Ohio and be quite uninteresting.  I’ll
keep you updated on future developments with that.

I miss you too and I hope we can meet up in Columbus sometime soon.  Let me
know what happens with the job situation.

PS: Ohio is very important in the next election since we are a “swing
state.”  Please do me a big favor and vote for Kerry / Edwards!  Bush has
made the entire world angry with us and needs to go!  His foreign policy is
a catastrophe and I’m tired of hiding my nationality!  <— The Embassy even
instructs us to lay low which is very telling about how bad the American
image has become.  Let’s get rid of that Nazi!


E-mail to Hyun-Ju Tak 11.8.2003

Salut Hyun-Ju
Ce deviens plus en plus difficile d’ecrire en francais.  On parle pas le francais au japon, donc j’ai oublie bcp! 
Maintenant, j’etudie toujours le japonais mais je ne peux pas apprendre tres rapide comme le francais.  Le Kanji et le fait que je peux lire seulement 600-800 kanjis me alle tres mal.  Mais, je fais de progrés toutefois lentement. 
Oui, je etais en faveur de Bush en 2000.  Oui, je regrette mon choix maintenant.  Mais c’est toujours comme ça.  Quand the government c’est a droit je vote a gauche, et quand the governement c’est a gauche, je vote a droit.  Je n’aime pas le government vraiment.  C’est toujours pour le classe élite ne import pas quelle pays. 
Je vais venir en coree, mais je n’ai pas le temps jusqu’a le printems (spring break).  J’ai trop des cours en Japonais en ce moment et je vais retourner au EEUU pour le noel.  Mais je te promis que je viens pendant le printemps 2004.  J’ai grand envie de voir le coree, vietnam, et le grand mur de chine.  Donc, c’est sur que je viens en printemps 2004.  On voit en ce temps-la!! 
Bonne Chance avec tes etudes!

—– Original Message —–
From:Hyun-Ju TAK
Sent: Thursday, October 02, 2003 12:24 PM
Subject: [RE]Est-ce que tu es la?


Ca y est!

Salut, Matthew~~~!

Je suis ravie de te retrouver. ^^

En effet, j’ai essaye plusieurs fois de t’envoyer un e-mail mais je n’y suis pas arrivee. C’etait toujours renvoye…je ne sais pas pourquoi. –;

Enfin ca marche. ^__________^

J’avais pense que tu m’avais oublie pendant que tu ne me repondais pas.

J’en regrettais beaucoup puisque c’etait ma faute.

Mais je suis maintenant heureuse de retrouver un cher ami. ^^

J’ai bien compris ce que tu as ecrit sur les ecarts entre la population et la classe elite.

Je suis d’accord avec toi.

Au fait je me souviens que tu etais en faveur de Georges W. Bush lors de l’election presidentielle en 2000, n’est-ce pas?

Tu regrettes maintenant ton choix?


Ne sois pas vexe, je plaisante.

Personne n’a meme pas imagine qu’un president d’un pays aussi puissant que les Etats-Unis pourrait etre aussi bete que ca.

C’est dommage pour le monde entier……………………!


Tu sais que je dois passer un concours d’entree dans une ecole d’interpretariat dans un mois.

C’est tres difficile et ca me stresse beaucoup.

Si je le reussis,  j’eprouverai de la joie vertigineuse!

Et je serai libre pendant quelques mois. Je ne sais pas tes schedules mais si tu as du temps apres la mi-novembre je voudrais te guider un peu la Coree. ^^

Mais tout cela concerne seulement le cas de ma reussite.

Si je le rate, je ne serai plus au monde…TT.TT

En tout cas, je suis vraiment contente de te rejoindre et j’espere que l’on pourra se contacter souvent,  sans rupture!!! ^^

A bientot~~

E-mails Japan - 日本

E-mail to Brendan about Iraq War


Well, America is going to war!  Remember, if you see any suspicious towel heads about the building to call security immediately. ha ha

Seriously though, all the world is against the war without the backing of the UN security council.  Then on Japanese T.V. they showed some Americans being interviewed on the street saying they were all for it.  As I’m sure you know, Americans aren’t always seeing in good light around the world and Bush just made it a hell of a lot worse.  I know Bushy keeps talking about WMD but they never presented the proof.  From what I’ve read, the proof was: one taped telephone call about one modified vehicle, one drone plane, and a few missiles that flew a little farther then they were supposed to.  If they would have showed a few Nukes, I would be convinced, but from here I can only guess that Bush wants either oil, or to implement Democracy in a backward part of the world (Arab lands) while the ball is still rolling (Afganistan).  I don’t think anyone can guess what the consequences will be.  Hopefully the war goes well and is quick, the French help out, and democracy is established without too much chaos and the West is united again.  If not, I fear that it is going to seriously damage America’s image in the world.  After all it is the first time we have attacked first (disregarding Latin America) and the first time a state has told the head of another state to leave his own country. 

As I’m sure we all know a large part of our countrymen are idiots. I have the feeling if Pres. Bush told them that China was breeding Green Dragons to take over the world and that we had to attack to stop the Dragons he could garner at least 50% of support.  I also have the feeling that the people interviewed who supported the war on the T.V. don’t know where Iraq is and think that the Middle East is somewhere in the Northwest next to Canada.

Don’t get me started about Freedom Fries, and toast.  And to think that the Rep. is from Ohio just makes me want to cry.  You said Liberty Fries.. did they change the name again? 

Ok, enough of my rambling.  Let’s talk about Japan.  There have only been modest protest here in Japan and I saw one on the street yesterday.  Oops that’s talking about war again.  About Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  I think that if you are going to come all the way to Japan you should definitely go to one of them.  My advice is this.  You take the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto (the old capital of Japan).  There you can see “old” Japan and the many many temples and Shrines.  Spend a day or two there since Kyoto is the most important city for tourists.  It takes maybe 4-5 hours to get there on the bullet train.  Then it will take another 3-4 hours from there to Hiroshima (your heading South the whole time).  You can see Hiroshima in one day since the main site is the bombed out “Peace Dome” which is a building blown out by the A-bomb.  There is also a museum near there and some various monuments of importance.  You will also be interviewed by Junior High School girls who hang out there to interview foreigners for their class projects.  They will ask you what you think about peace,……….so um,, maybe you should tell them you are from New Zealand.  I’m not sure if I will go or not yet because I have already been to both places.  But you two should definitely go there because damn, you’re coming a long way.   

About the Foreign Service exam, I thought I’d take it just for the hell of it.  It’s offered only once this year and it’s can’t hurt to take it.   I really don’t want a position now though since I’ll be studying Japanese for another year and a half.  But I want to keep my options open and it’s a good idea to see what the foreign service is about.  However, the events of recent have made me not want to work for the American Gov’t at this time. 

Alright guys, I’m off.  Let me know if you need any info about Japan.  I seriously recommend getting to Kyoto and Hiroshima regardless if I go or not.  Everyone speaks English around here and all (most of) the signs are in English.