Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The JET application process is a big fat multi-tiered layer cake of bureaucracy and paper pushing, and it all culminates the day results are released. Applicants are placed in one of three categories: (A) Shortlisted aka "Welcome to Japan;" (B) Rejected aka "You fail;" or (C) Alternated aka "We're going to drag out the waiting game indefinitely, welcome to hell." I got a message at a JET-related website (which I may or may not have nearly 26,000 posts on...) a couple days back from someone whose cover letter essay I proofread back in December announcing excitedly that he had been shortlisted. Great job, slugger!

I can't believe it's been three years since I received notice of my applicant status. Like 9/11 or my first clubbing experience in Berlin, that moment is burned into my brain all flashbulb-like. I was at Pizzeria Uno of all places with my best friend and this Chinese dude who was explaining that Shanghai girls uniformly fall all over themselves when he walks into a room (unlikely). Got a phone call from Walter saying JET applicant results were out. He was alternated so I was nearly certain I had either been alternated or rejected, but after having him check my email, it turns out I had been shortlisted! I was beside myself with excitement but naturally had to downplay it so as not to rub salt in his gaping wounds. The minute I hung up the phone I yelled "I'M GOING TO JAPAN, OH MY GOOOODDDDD" in an uncharacteristically girly squeal, and my friends were happy for me.

Walter ended up being upgraded from alternate status a couple weeks before I left the United States. Prior to this great news there had been crying and stressing over the possibility of a future, and it was always lurking there shitting on my parade. Similarly to the "shortlisted!" phone call, I remember it perfectly. I was driving to the bar with a friend and nearly swerved off the road when he broke the news over the phone. Just another excellent notch on my already-charmed life. I celebrated a lot and probably shouldn't have driven home from the bar that night.

It's really fun to think about all this, now that I've got just over three months left in Japan and the next big mystery is imminent. Why is it so much easier to wax nostalgic over the past or to fantasize far into the future than to concentrate on the present?

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