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As it tends to do, time has been going by faster than I can catch it. I am entrenched behind the protection of a word processor in the fourth week of my embattled stay in Tokyo.

This is more than enough time for me to let my mouth run off. This is nothing new to anyone who has ever known me.

See, my name is Christopher and I never shut up. I am the eighth largest source of air pollution in the world, just lagging behind California. There was a time when I had this notion that it might be admirable for me to say whatever I thought, whatever I felt, whenever I wanted to say it, whether it was an appropriate time or not.

I ignore people who want to know me. I hurt people who are kind to me. It is a weakness. The universe is littered with my shortcomings.

I have, in the past year, tried to cut down on this. Thinking before I speak: it’s like a higher energy fuel with lower emissions. You don’t believe me. People say a lot of things.

I truly appreciate someone who doesn’t need to hear himself speak. I am not yet comfortable with what is and must fill it with what I shape it to be. It is a weakness. The universe is littered with my shortcomings.

Anyway, even if I am trying to cut down on the hurtful comments and insensitive remarks, when I am in my realm of comfort in Philadelphia or my childhood Sussex County, if I do slip up and say something rude, it just rolls out of my mind. Truly and sadly, I genuinely don’t care, and feel I was in the right for saying what I felt. It is a weakness. The universe is littered with my shortcomings.

I am not in Philadelphia or my childhood Sussex County.

This leads me to find another praiseworthy note of studying abroad. Put it up on the big board. Any travel on your own can make you react differently towards yourself, towards your own actions. You see that tool bag you are at home in an entirely different way.

So, in the four weeks I have been in Tokyo, I have postulated pompously to professors and negatively to new friends. What has particularly prompted me to write this are the countless thoughtless jabs and needless comments I have made to my producer during our consistent business chatter through email.

These comments are meant to break the monotony of day-to-day business with a friend or an employer. I always thought it was a neat way to push someone out of their comfort and mine from my own, to unite in a nontraditional way. I have trouble justifying using portions of the little time I have on pleasantries and small talk. I would rather something unusual, more exotic, a fight even. Sometimes that even works for a while. But, invariably I cross that line.

I wholly sympathize with my producer, a man who gave me this opportunity to explore a new world and share it with others. He says nothing but complimentary things to me. I am too immature to accept compliments. They make me uncomfortable. I am like a third-grader pushing a classmate in the mud because he can’t tell him he wants to be his friend.

Yesterday on the bus I made a snide remark to a fellow American. While eating lunch a few days ago, I used a bit too much sarcasm for a curious Japanese student who was simply trying to use his English. I’m sure he perceived me to be rather rude. As someone who claims to want to represent the United States proudly, I don’t always do a very good job. It is a weakness. The universe is littered with my shortcomings.

In the United States, I would forget about all of this. I would consider them mistakes, always apologize, but move on. I would understand them to be in the past and realize time moves too quickly to worry about what has passed.

I haven’t been able to do that here. I see myself in the home of someone else, and I can’t stand these things that slip out of my mouth or through an email. I agonize over them.

I don’t want to say something hurtful to someone who is trying to help me. I don’t want to push someone in the mud because I don’t know how to make friends.

I have been trying for a year to slowly kick this habit. Maybe a few months studying abroad is just what I need.

Jaa ne:

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