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Culture Shock!!

11/9/2000

Sometimes at work, I would feel like I wasn't doing anything of importance and would get a little frustrated about it. That on top of not being able to communicate very well with the people around me "inspired" me to write this poem

Also...some translations for those who don't know any Japanese...
genki = happy
kanji = Chinese characters in the Japanese writing system
gaijin = foreigner
hazukashi = shy

How do I deal with this thing called culture shock?
Maybe a drink, a gin tonic on the rocks
Wait a second, I don't drink, let's try smoking
And die from lung cancer, you must be joking!
So how can I deal, how can I relax
Maybe listening to music, I think I'd like that
So what should I listen to, what fits what I'm feeling
Maybe jazz, that right, maybe Casandra Wilson
No, wait, that won't work, it'll only depress me
Maybe I'll study Japanese to get me genki
But then I get frustrated, what's this kanji?

I can't read these words, no use in me trying
I can't take it anymore, I feel like dying
But then I remember I have some purpose
And need to stop feeling so completely worthless
So what's my purpose, be a gaijin, be different
Let them all stare at me and only show indifference
I don't think that's it, what could it be
Share my culture with those that I see
Those who question and misunderstand me

I think I'm getting closer, maybe this will make me happy
But oops, I forgot, I'm extremely hazukashi
Why is it so hard for me to just do it
I need to be strong and try to pursue it
Like the desperate man I feel like now
Emerce myself in the culture; learn the correct bow
But I'm very confused, I don't know how

I'm riding the culture shock coaster, oh what a ride!
It thrills you one second, then kills your pride
It's not that bad, my life's been worse
It's just something new, so I write this verse

11/17/2000

I wrote this while eating at McDonald's in Kobe. People were staring at me but trying to be sly about it. I usually ignore it, but this day I couldn't for some reason, so I wrote this poem.

I don't have to see them, I feel them looking
Like a starving man staring at someone cooking
But it's not a desperate look, but one of curiosity
I never thought before I was a man of such mystery
But here in Japan I feel kind of special
Like some novelty they can't figure out, no matter how much they mettle
In my life or in my affairs
So I guess when I go here and there
All they can really do is just stare
No questions asked, I don't think anyone would dare
Talk to me, the gaijin, the little black boy
At least I'm not poked and prodded at like a toy
I just want to be accepted; not put on a pedestal
Nor stared and gawked at as if I'm incredible
I'm just a regular guy, I never tried to be more
But I came to Japan not knowing what was in store
for me, the superstar, or sometimes the stranger
And sometimes my annoyance turns into anger
"Stop staring!", I think, "Is this what YOU like?
People staring at you when you're riding your bike
Back to your house to rest your head"
But I can't stay angry, I repress it instead
Cause I know that I'm something that they've never seen
Something they couldn't imagine in a dream
And while I stay here I'll just accept
That Iím different, I will not fret
About the stares or the special attention
Cause all that will do is just cause tension
When I should be happy I'm in another world
I feel like my life's been given a twirl
And I'm really in an upside down place
A place I don't fit in, so I must show grace
And deal with it the best way I can
And somehow leave this country a stronger man