Craig-249 Expat- On Keeping It Simple

Craig note- While ESID, it`s best you KISS as a foreigner in Japan and on social media. (Enjoy!)

**ESID- every situation is different
**KISS- keep it simple stupid

I am a simple guy.

I`ve written before that; perhaps, my lone redeeming quality in life is that, “I am extraordinary at the ordinary.”

That`s it.

It`s my big, big, big secret to “success” in life, living in Japan, and on social media. But, you would be surprised how often that the little things trip up people in life.

There are many, many, many foreigners here that have trouble getting up on time. Years ago, there was a foreign English teacher who was absolutely terrible at showing up for community events.

It became a running joke that, “$%$%-sensei is going to be late.”

Eventually, the Japanese people in the community took to telling the English teacher that an event started 30 minutes before it actually did.

Her school gave her an alarm clock as “a joke” at her farewell party.

(Seriously, they did that…)

Oddly, social media “failure” happens for similar reasons. I get a lot of e-mails from people asking, “How can I get more followers?”

But, there is no super, super, super secret to growing on Twitter.

1. I post.
2. I post quality stuff.
3. I post often (at key times).
4. I blog several times a week.
5. I retweet people (minus the jacka$$es and folks that make no effort to retweet others). 
6. I engage every single person (minus trolls and escorts) who reach out to me.
7. And, I do it seven days a week without exception (outside of a small vacation or two).

But, I see most people on social media give up.

Many, many, many people come to Japan. And, they get excited to make podcasts, vlogs, YouTube videos, blogs, or post photos.

They dream of instant social media success.

And, yes, some foreigners do quickly reach some measure of tangible success.

Most don`t…

Or, they quit.

Most of the successful (non-famous) social media people who I have “met” here have worked hard to build a core of engagers, grow their social media while creating new and better content.

Of course, it would be amazing to be super, super, super popular on social media.

And, we live in times where a little, little, little nobody Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin foreigner can get noticed.

It happens.

But, truth be told, if popularity was my only goal, there are far, far, far easier ways to go about it than Twitter.

Trust me, the pursuit of social media success is mundane in nature. (In real life, too…)

(It`s dang boring at times…)





That`s the part I control. But, it is also the part I see social media dreamers fail at in droves.

They skip the grunt work, and they resort to shouting out to all who would-be engagers with reckless abandon.

(It gets surreal with some folks.)

I see many, many, many would-be social media stars going hat in hand to other (big/bigger) people to curry favor (i.e. a like, a share, a retweet, etc.) And, there is no shame in that.

To be sure, successful social media marketing involves a fair amount of butt-kissing (especially early on).

(That`s no less true in real life success at times.)

But, there are limits as to how far even the best of engagement is going to take someone`s social media. (Even the most famous of people have limits to their social media reaches…)

If one truly believes in the reason(s) that they are on social media in the first place…

They should stay the course and continue to control the quality of their content and not worry about how it is received by others.

For in the end, it is best to keep things nice and; well…


Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”- Confucius

Craig-248 Food- On Ramen

Craig note- I had not done a food post in a few months. (Enjoy!)

My wife loves ramen. She could eat it every day. I like ramen, too. But, it took awhile here for me to overcome that whole American instant cup ramen idea.  Ramen in Japan is much, much, much different.

(Instant noodles were a staple of my graduate school days. I avoided eating ramen when I first arrived in Japan.)


Still, I have learned to enjoy ramen. There are several great, great, great shops in this area. It`s fun to explore the different styles of ramen.


A local bar offers chicken ramen. I order it every time my wife and I go there on a date. It`s reminds me of my cold, cold, cold winter days back in Ohio. My beloved mother put hot chicken soup in my thermos for lunch on the most frigid of school days.


A nice Chinese restaurant in my area has some killer soy sauce ramen. This is my wife`s go-to ramen for lunch.


I prefer a bit more kick. So, I order the spicy ramen. It`s is not too spicy, but it does get me sweating a little.


There is a famous shop in our area that features a fantastic wonton-men dish. The soup is simply divine. There is always, always, always a long line of hungry customers waiting to get into the small shop.

But, it is well worth the wait.


Finally, my wife and I look for ramen even while on vacation. This crab ramen was absolutely wonderful. I wanted to order it again!

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter.

“When times get rough, you always have ramen noodles.”- Unknown


Craig-247 Expat- On Smoking In Japan

Craig note- There is one thing that annoys me to no end in Japan:  Public smoking. (Enjoy!)

I have smoked a cigarette.

Well, one time…

Years ago, there was a very, very, very beautiful girl who I was dating. We were out drinking one night at a bar, and she tossed me a cigarette. She lit it for me, and I took a really, really, really small puff. I spent the next five minutes gasping for air on the floor.

You see, me and cigarette smoke do not mix.

Later, this was never a problem when I went to bars in Ohio. The laws prevented smoking in public places. Fast forward to Japan…

I love standing bars. They are cheap, fun, and wonderful places to practice Japanese with local folks.

I go weekly to a great, great, great local place. Often, it`s empty. But, there are occasions when it is full of old dudes. And, holy schnikes, the once clean air is soon replaced by big, big, big plumes of dirty, grey smoke…

Seriously, I need a flashlight to find the exit.

Welcome to Japan!

The land of sushi, samurai, and chain smokers.

It s-cks.

Thankfully, smoking has been in decline in Japan for the several years.

There are lots of smokers in Japan. Around 350 billion cigarettes are consumed every year. Per capita cigarette consumption is 2,770 cigarettes per year, compared to 2,350 in the United States, 1,791 in China and 2,058 in France. But smoking is in decline.

The smoking rate in Japan hit an all-time low of 19.5 percent in 2010, down 3.9 percent from the preceding year according to Japan’s health ministry.

(From Facts and Figures)

And, I can tell you that I know very, very, very few people who smoke. But, the bars and restaurants and even public streets still seem overrun by chain-smokers. Too, my local train station is littered with half-smoked cigarette butts.

It is a terrible, terrible, terrible blight on an otherwise pristine-looking area. It`s like my small, small, small town is home to every smoker in Japan. And, there is some statistical truth to that.

Surprisingly, the rate of smoking while decreasing does vary by region of Japan.

Smoking rates vary from region to region. In Osaka, 42.6 percent of men (4th highest in Japan) and 11.1 percent of women (2nd highest in Japan) smoke. In Tokyo, 31.1 percent of men and 9.6 percent of women smoke.

In one survey 61 percent of smokers admitted they were nicotine addicts.

(From Facts and Figures)

At least, in terms of smoking, Kansai earns it`s rather “dirty” reputation. Of course, one could simply avoid places where people smoke. But, the staff working at such venues have no such luxury.

About 130,000 people a year die of tobacco-related illnesses in Japan, according to the World Health Organization. This amounts to about one in 10 deaths.

In Japan, male smokers are 4.4 times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers and female smokers are 2.8 times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers.

More than 50,000 people died of lung cancer in Japan. Each year 80,000 men and 10,000 women get smoking-induced cancer. This is 20 percent of all cancer cases in Japan.

(From Facts and Figures)

Thankfully, the Japanese government has made some effort(s) to protect the public. Well, they passed a law anyway…

In May 2003, the Diet passed the Health Promotion Law law prohibiting smoking in public places to cut down on second-hand smoke. The law as widely adopted even though it imposed no penalties for breaking it.

Smoking is allowed through-out much of the lower house, which passed a law.

(From Facts and Figures

Oddly, many, many, many laws in Japan are written with small (zero) penalties. People simply ignore a law that they disagree with here. Smokers and businesses here are shocked when I tell them about smoking laws back home.

In Ohio, you can be fined up to 2,500 USD (the offending business, too).

In Japan, well,…

In 2015, Chiyoda set its penalty for smoking outside of smoking areas or for flinging cigarette butts on the ground at ¥2,000. (20 USD)


Is it any wonder why smokers in Japan choose to ignore smoking laws/bans in droves?

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter.

“If you just do a Google search and type in ‘smoking’ or ‘lung cancer’, you will be barraged with never-ending facts and numbers, like how one in every three Americans is affected by lung disease and how COPD is the third leading cause of death and if you get lung cancer the odds are 95% that you will die.”- Matthew Gray Gubler


Craig-246 Expat- On International Marriage

Craig note- International marriage can be tough. (Enjoy!)

Today is my wedding anniversary.

I have been married for eight years today. Of course, people often ask me questions about international marriage.

Perhaps, the most common one is “Should I get married to a foreign person?”

And, my answer is always, always, always the same, “No, you should not.”

People are often shocked by that answer. But, it is true. I would never, ever, EVER recommend an international marriage as a way of life for someone. But, here is a little secret.

I am the most happily married person I have EVER met in my life.

When people come to me, and they ask, “Should I get married to a foreign person?”

I KNOW they aren`t ready.

I never asked one single person if I should marry my wife. In fact, I knew after the second date that she was going to be my wife. Five months after we met, I asked her to marry me.

She turned me down twice before she finally agreed. My wife wanted to see how willing I was to keep coming after her in our relationship. (Three times was my limit. I have a little pride.)

Oddly, after she said, “Yes.” I spent several months trying to convince her that she should not marry me. I knew there were challenges on the horizon. My English teaching job was coming to an end at the time.

I worried about replacing the great, great, great position I had. And, it was a legitimate worry. It took me nearly two years to find another great, great, great English teaching job.

Too, I worried about how I would communicate with her family. At the time, my Japanese was woefully inadequate for someone who had lived here almost five years. It took a long, long, long time to feel comfortable in speaking with my wife`s family.

To tell the truth, I still avoid in-depth conversations with most of her family during the obligatory holidays. I tend to play with kids at family gatherings or find a quiet place to drink beer. It`s just easier for all involved. (Trust me.)

And, I worried about never going back to America. My beloved mother took the news of my marriage years ago as bittersweet. She put on a happy face when she came here for the wedding.

But, we both knew that me saying “Yes.” to my new bride also meant saying “No.” to my American life. I have been back ONE time in the last eight years. And, I cannot say that I will go back anytime soon.

My schedule simply would never allow me to take any significant amount of time off to make the expense of going home worth it. And, to tell the truth, my life is here now.

I find little connection outside of my beloved family back home.There is no shame in saying that. It`s been a long, long, long time. I have changed (for the better, I think).

My family, too, has changed and grown into people who I know little about beyond what I glean from my beloved mother during our weekly phone calls.

Thankfully, social media does allow me to share my life here with my inner circle of pals. But, it was a tough, tough, tough decision to get married and stay here.

(Choosing the woman was easy; choosing Japan not so much…)

People often ask me if I made the right choice in getting married and staying in Japan. I always, always, always answer the same way, “I`ll let you know…”

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter.

“The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It’s a choice you make – not just on your wedding day, but over and over again – and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.”- Barbara De Angelis


Craig-245 Expat- On Getting Up

Craig note- Sometimes, getting up each morning is tough…even for me. (Enjoy!)

I got up this morning.

There is nothing unusual about that.

But, today I stayed in bed for an extra minute.

And, that troubled me.

You see. I jump out of bed around 4 a.m. each morning. I am eager to get the jump on the day, social media, and my life.

But, today, I stayed in bed for that extra minute. And, I feel guilty even if there might have been a good reason or two for my momentary laziness.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day out in the hot, hot, hot sun. And, I drank an extra beer last night before I went to sleep. But, that was not that out of the ordinary.

I sat there in my pajamas for an extra 60 seconds this morning trying to find the mojo to get my Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin carcass out of bed.

And, finally, I did.

As I shaved, I was reminded of a foreigner who lived in the same building that I did years ago. It took him much, much, much longer to get out of bed in the morning. He would stroll into his school at 10:30 a.m. on most days.

Of course, the school on a number of occasions asked him why he was late. To his credit, the expat was honest (well, sort of he was).

“I could not bring myself to get out of bed before I watched the sunrise.”

I can tell you the sun rises much, much, much earlier than 10:30 a.m. in Japan. But, I digress.

The English teacher was also the type of person to simply leave school when there was no work to do. He left every day about 2:30. Now, I have heard people tell other folks that leaving school is okay when, “There is no work to do or classes to teach.”

But, I can tell you that guy did not get a new contract. And, that is very, very, very hard to do on the JET Program.

He claimed to all who would listen that, “It was a mutual parting of the ways.” But, everyone knew the truth. It (He) was a running joke for years among the foreign English teachers.

Funny enough, later, the same guy asked his replacement to, “…send me my guitar…” (He forgot it.) That would have been cool, but for the fact, the guy wanted the foreigner to pay the shipping for it, and he said would, “…catch him later for the money…”

(The dude lived in Australia. And, he was NEVER coming back to Japan.)

But, his replacement believing in the goodness of people (and being new to Japan) sent the guitar. That was in 2008. That foreign sap is STILL waiting for the money to this day.

(Craig note- Don`t do that!)

But, back on point, my minute lapse this morning into laziness…

Of course, I know people don`t think sleeping in is lazy. But, for a type A+ personality-types like me, that 60 second delay in getting at my life today is still running through my mind.

Honestly, I`ve tried at various points of my life to be (a little) lazy. But, I was too hardworking at it. (lol)

In the end, one of the biggest keys to success (or failure) in life is being one`s true self. I am lucky that many, many, many of my natural personality characteristics matches Japanese work/life culture.

But, for folks like that sunrise-watching English teacher; well, the red sun sets far, far, far faster than in a minute on them.


Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter.

“I’m afraid of only two things: being lazy and being cowardly. I get up early in the morning and go to work. I love to write.”- David Mamet

Craig-244 Expat- On My Friend Em

Craig note-  From my archives…(2005)

I came across some old e-mails today from my great, great, great friend Em. Years ago, we were graduate school classmates. She went off to get a Ph.D. Sadly, she came back to her apartment one evening, and she suddenly died this month 12 years ago.

I don`t think they ever knew the cause. She was always full of wisdom for me as you will see. And, she was eager for my resume advice, too. (Enjoy!)

So sorry to hear you lost your job.

(My company cut my hours down to just four hours a week.)

I was hoping that the bad luck of unemployment was only on my shoulders.  I am sure you will find something soon….though I have been looking for months now and the only thing I am doing is basically working as a maid for a few people. 

This is what it has come to… (Em`s job search had not being going well.)

I have done so many interviews now I am on automatic pilot, and for some reason no one wants to give me a chance.  But, this afternoon I finally landed an interview with a bookstore.

The pay rate s-cks, but maybe I can talk them into something more with all my musical experience (the job is in the music dept).

(She didn`t get the job.)

Meanwhile, things are still up in the air for me at (university).  They are offering me a class to teach, it’s really very little money.  The experience would be good, but at the same time I already have the experience.

(Em took the class. And, she did a great job teaching.)

I think my bigger issue is that I don’t think that deep down I really want to stay here.  I applied for a perfect for me college teaching gig at (university).  I have left a few phone messages on the chair of the committee’s machine, but no call backs.

(Em was always doggedly in pursuit of what she wanted in and out of her life.)

I want this job so badly I can taste it, it is only a one year commitment too, so I could find a better Ph.D. program.  I know if I can get an interview I can get the job, but with every day that passes I fear I will only get rejection.  I am not sure if I will stay here either way.

I know it will be better for my resume to have another year here, but it will be so much worse for my wallet.  I just wish I knew what to do to make myself competitive for the Ph.D. program at (university), my new university of interest.

Anyway, I am still struggling mightily to make ends meet, but try to remain faithful that something will work out. I am applying for a (university) specific scholarship that could offset some of the tuition costs, who knows what my chances are though.

(She got the scholarship.)

I hope you aren’t way down in the dumps, I know how overwhelmed you get feeling like nothing is going right.

(Em was one of a few people who I shared my angst at not being more successful in my life. Those demons still plague me in my darkest moments even to this day.)

Call it pessimism or realism, I don’t care….just remember that you still have your mind and your heart and you’re walking around….that’s a lot going for you.

(Shortly after this e-mail, I got my first job in Japan. Emily was so, so, so proud of me. And, three months later, she was dead. I found out six months later when I stumbled upon her obituary online.)

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter.

Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been.”- Alan Alda


Craig-243 Expat- On One Page Foreigners

Craig note- You might believe in second chances, but your resume likely only needs one page! (Enjoy!)



I have written and edited  a ton of them over the years.

Literally, in all that time, I have NEVER said, “I think your resume is too short.”

But, I get it.

People love themselves (a lot).

And, it shows.

The average resume I receive is three pages. This week alone I did more than 60 resumes.

Can you guess how many of those resumes got sent back to people with more than one page?

Answer:  One.

And, it was well deserved. The person had multiple advanced degrees. They had worked for major, major, major companies in big roles. In addition, they had a long, long, long list of publications in large journals.

That was worth two pages.

Now, that is not to say that those other people don`t have employment value. They do. But, a resume is really, really, really old school social media.

(You know back when people actually talked to other people.)

And, the key to social media is not in the creation of content. It is in getting that content seen. Content that gets viewed is then eligible for that ever elusive social media Holy Grail:

“The rubber stamp of public approval.”

That outside validation of one`s content (deserved or not) is the only thing that separates your friend`s post of a glamour selfie on Facebook (for ten people) from Taylor Swift getting 20 million hits for posting a picture of her freshly painted big toe.

Social media is a fluid, fast-moving entity, so, too, now is the modern hiring process.

The resume is not designed to be an epistle. It is a living, breathing advertisement to get you an interview. To be sure, there is a feeling of “speed dating” to it all. And, yes, just like in the dating world, it does bring out an air of desperation in some applicants.

It`s understandable. The modern world is a tough, tough, tough place to live for most people.

Let`s be honest:

Many, many, many people looking for new employment are desperate for a job (for money or some new career challenge). They get worked up or super, super, super excited at some job advertisement they found on the internet. Naturally, they go on and on in a resume about how great they are at (insert whatever).

And, sure, their novel length-rivaling resume might get them the job.

But, then again…It might not.

If you were drowning in the ocean, “Would you go on and on explaining your dire situation to someone standing on the shore…”

or would you simply scream:

“Help me!”?

Your resume should shout (albeit nicely) “Look no further! Hire me!”

Let`s be real, IF it takes a six page resume to convince someone to give you an interview (or a date), I have some bad, bad, bad news for you.

Dude, you aren`t getting the job (or the date).

(Trust me, I know.)

These days it is not the amount of words in a resume, but rather it is the choice of those words that matters most.

Today, 90% of resumes are submitted online.

And, 75% of resumes are tossed out by computers that are looking only for keywords X, Y, and Z.

Literally, you could write a 100 page resume. It might even be really, really, really good one. But, if you use  keywords A, B, and C instead of X, Y, and Z, you aren`t going to get very, very, very far in the application process.

Real people are no better.

A human reader will scan your resume for 15 seconds. (That`s about as long as it just took you to read this paragraph.) They, too, are looking for the “right words” from your resume.

It won`t matter one iota how great your format and font look on paper if your resume is sending the wrong message. You have to make a connection with the poor coffee-drinking sap reading your resume quick, fast, and in a hurry.

That`s the reality, and it is not changing anytime soon.

In the end, the perfect resume is the one that does one thing right:

It gets you the job.

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter.

“Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson




Craig-242 Expat- On “Defying (Foreign) Gravity”

Craig note- Sometimes, Japan pushes down on even the best of foreigners. Off topic, I was thinking about “Wicked” (the hit Broadway musical). I saw it both in New York and here in Japan. It was awesome both times. (Enjoy!)


My great, great, great friend wrote me. We were talking about how difficult it can be to work for a Japanese company.

(Trust me, it`s not for everybody.)

Recently, he returned to work in Japan after a bit of time back in America. We were discussing life in Japan over a few text messages this week.

My great, great, great friend mentioned that one of his coworkers got promoted at his company.

Unfortunately, the man is not the best of employees. This annoyed my great, great, great friend to no end.

I don`t think he wanted the promotion. It was more about how often the terrible, terrible, terrible workers here move up the corporate ladder while the hard-working stiffs get screwed.

(Actually, I should write that they get $%$%-ed over, but, you know; this is a PG site.)

He asked me, “How do you deal with that?”

I did not have a good answer for him. But, it is a/an expat story I have heard ad nauseam over the years.

In my own case, I came to Japan 12 plus years ago as an ALT-CIR, and the majority of my working life in Japan is still English teaching. There is no shame in that. As I have written before, I work for an outstanding company.

And, I am most fortunate to be employed.

(And, trust me, if you have not figured it out, I am not exactly the village idiot. I do other stuff.)

But, of course, there is no “up” in my company.

I was an English teacher when I started five plus years ago, and I will likely still be an English teacher in five hundred more years if I stay with the company. And, my life will go on very, very, very much as wonderfully as it has since the first day I came to Japan. There are far, far, far worse fates in life.

But, last year something happened to me…much like Elphaba

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying [foreign] gravity
And you can’t pull me down!

(​Defying Gravity​ from `Wicked`)


Yeah, it would be nice to do (be) more in Japan.

It`s a big reason why you see my enormous effort(s) on this blog and on Twitter. I have no illusions of being some social media tycoon. But, selfishly, it would be cool to get somebody to notice me.

And, it would be even better if a company had an opportunity that I could fully put my drive and talents behind; sans the dancing monkey English education bit.

But, sometimes, there is this weight upon me that seem to hold be back from reaching beyond the confines of the ESL classroom. I never notice it until I go about the business of trying to do (be) more here.

To be blunt, there are people I am responsible for/to in this life.

I take those duties as serious as a heart attack. I have zero regrets about the life I have chosen to live. That was my free choice.

But, it`s also why I get up before 4 a.m. every morning.

This blog and my social media stuff cannot get in the way of my marriage or my family and work life. I know people who do give up wives, families, and even Japan as they pursue more in their lives.

But, that`s just never going to be me.

I simply don`t have it within me to be a deadbeat husband, or; worse an absentee father. I grew up like that. I shall not repeat such behavior in my own personal life.

And, I know that likely torpedos any real chance I have of breaking into anything new. That is something I understand (if not completely accept). And, I know that I am not alone in that feeling.

There are many, many, many foreigners that get trapped by the lives that they have worked so, so, so hard to build here. Japanese people, too, often give up personal dreams in the name of wives/husbands, kids, and cold, hard cash.

Life happens to the best of us.

And, trust me, it ain`t free.


On occasion, I do see a foreigner really, really, really make it “big” here. And, that does drive me to continue on the path to do (be) more.

But, it also reminds me that there is a reason every time someone greets me their second question after, “Where are you from?” is always, always, always:

“Where do you teach English?” 

(I hate that.)

Perhaps, like Elphaba in “Wicked,” I will one day enjoy:

“Defying (Foreign) Gravity.”

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”-Harriet Tubman


Craig-241 Expat- On Loaning Money, Broken Washers, And Dating

Craig note-  From the archives and some new content, too. Be careful when you “loan” money to other foreigners. (Enjoy!)

On Loaning Money (To Other Foreigners)

Once again, someone has borrowed money from me.

Do I look like a foreign(er) bank?

Worse, they did it without asking.

(That`s a long, long, long story.)

Worse-er (yeah I made that word up), they are running up a tab with me that I have no idea how they are going to pay it back. Living overseas, invariablely means trusting certain things to certain people.

Sometimes you have no choice.

(I still hate that about living abroad.)

I NEVER “loan” money to family either. But, some people in my family have “borrowed” thousands of dollars from me. No wonder I have been working a zillion hours a week as I try to make it in the world.

I let it go.

It just gets ugly because then I have a conversation about it, and I am the bad guy. I am not well off.

Every dollar/yen I make goes to pay down some debt. Even now, I own nothing and certainly have NOTHING to my name.

Worse, this latest loan, if it cannot be repaid, cancels my vacation I was going to take. It figures I finally convince myself to take a vacation, and this happens. It is exactly why I always save like a rabid dog.

I am really, really, really going to try not to get angry about the money. But, unless there is an unbelievable explaination. It is not going to be pretty.

(It wasn`t pretty. But, I got my money back. Eventually…)

Once again, it reason number 400 why I am a a very, very, very private person.

On Broken Washers (And Dating Foreigners)

Okay, it was a full day.

My washing machine is on the fritz. But, I am making it limp along. It does not want to go through the spin cycle. Worse, I am not sure whose responsible for replacing the washing machine, but if I have to buy a new one it will be like 200 bucks! (It was 500.)

(The school board picked up the tab. But, that`s rare. I called in a few favors.)

Oh, observation number two, I really do not want to date other foreigners in Japan! Once again I met a new woman from the next town over. Wow!

I shall be kind, but “NO frigging way!” I have no idea how she convinced the JET Program to let her come here.

(She was a mental mess.)

This town has changed so much.

There is so, so, so much drama building up between more than a few people. I am trying to be a peacemaker, but some people are not intent on finding peace.

How is it people cannot get along?

(It became a war.)

I have stressed to my friend(s) that I would like the last 19 months of my time here to be very, very, very peaceful. This is especially true since I will go back to being a nobody in my hometown. And, there is a good chance I will have a rather crappy job to boot.

(My English teaching job was about to end, I thought. Thankfully, I ended up getting a new contract.)

I enjoy life very, very, very much. But, I know my life here is temporary. (lol)

I would like to at least enjoy a few more months of low stress living before returning to that enviornment I am not going to get wrapped up in some English teacher drama.

I have really, really, really made strides in not letting things bother me. I generally have squeezed all the stress in my life out. I am content to sit on my blue bench of solitude.

Upon which I contemplate the universe…

(There was an old bench in front of my first apartment. I sat out there for hours (usually drinking) while thinking about where I wanted my life to go.)

Here is hoping people can come to effective resolutions of their problems while keeping the drama to a limited degree.

That would be nice in the time I have left.

(Those folks didn`t find any peace. But, like 99% of foreigners who come here, they all left, and with them the drama, too. And, my life went on…)

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter.

“I think what makes people fascinating is conflict, it’s drama, it’s the human condition. Nobody wants to watch perfection.”- Nicolas Cage


Craig-240 Expat- On Mocking Others

Craig note- I was thinking about foreigners who really, really, really struggle to live in Japan. (Enjoy!)


On Mocking Others

It`s very, very, very easy for me to live in Japan.

But, that is not the case for every foreigner in Japan. (Trust me. I have 100s of messages from foreigners here to attest to that fact.)

When, I first came to Japan, I spent time mostly with foreign English teachers from the West. Quickly, I realized that not every English teaching job was created equally in Japan.

There existed (exists a) strange social caste system among foreign English teachers in Japan.

There were the JETs. Those guys lived life large. Their salaries let them travel, drink, and go out to their heart`s content.

(This is not quite as true these days.)

Of course, there was the second tier foreign English teachers while working for the English teacher dispatch companies. Those guys and gals made a bit less money. To be sure, they, too, were able to travel, drink, and go out.

(They make a lot less money these days.)

But, those folks also were the same ones to grumble (often) openly about, “How easy it was to be a JET…”

Certainly, not to be forgotten, were the eikaiwa (English school) teachers. Those folks often made much, much, much less money than the aforementioned “upper” classes of foreign English teachers. (It is tough to live on this type of work these days.)

Those guys and gals did not go out every time they were asked. And, even when they did, those poor (literally) folks hit up other foreigners for, “…a buck or two…just until the 15th…” They never quite had enough money at the end of the month.

There was always, always, always a part of me that felt bad for them.

But, I was wrong to feel sorry for them.

You see. There are many, many, many foreigners in Japan who struggle to pay rent, buy food, or stay employed. And, to be sure, there is a Western foreigner or two who falls into that category.

(Some of those folks with wives and families here, too. I know a few.)

But, specifically, I am speaking of the foreigners who do not (cannot) teach English. And, those people who have little to no marketable job skills. As my time went on in Japan, I met more and more of those foreigners.

(Yes, I know people come here, and they get great IT or finance jobs. It happens.)

Certainly, some of those foreigners could have returned to their home countries. And, many, many, many of them did. But, there were people I met in my Japanese classes, randomly on the street, or at other events who simply had nowhere else to go.

Seriously, they were completely, completely, completely screwed.

The worst part was the sheer number of Western foreigners who look(ed) down upon the “second class” foreigners with an unfair amount of haughty derision.

Their crime?

Being born in the “wrong country…”

Worse, there were those Western foreigners who took a measure of joy in the discrimination and suffering of others.


Because they were lucky enough to have been born a native speaker of English. There are people who take it a step further by making a point of shouting to anyone willing to listen that, “I speak `American`.”

(And not; say, Australia, Canada, or New Zealand English…)

Seriously, there are folks who take it that far.

Should that alone be enough to step on the hopes, dreams, and feelings of other human beings, especially a fellow foreigner (Western or otherwise)?

I should think not, and I should hope not.

But, for many, many, many Western foreigners there is some need to feel superior in some way to somebody; perhaps, anybody, if even only for the briefest of moments.

Unfortunately, foreigners who are struggling make for easy targets for such insecure folks no matter where they were born.

And, that`s just really, really, really sad.

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter.

“People who look down on other people don’t end up being looked up to.”- Robert Half