Thursday, March 11, 2010


My friend Jessie, a fellow military child, began her blog today by sharing how she explains where she's from. I enjoyed reading this, as I regularly have to do the same. My most recent experience was at a party. Every single person was from Washington, and all of them from North/West Washington at that. For those of you who don't know, Walla Walla is in southeastern Washington on the border of Oregon. (Already I'm a loser). But of course I feel like even more of an outcast because I am not actually from Walla Walla. The strange thing about growing up in the military is that you can only claim to be "from" somewhere if you aren't currently living there.

Growing up, most of my friends had military parents, so the question "Where are you from?" actually means "Where did your dad/mum join the military?" Therefore, until I was 15, my answer was always "Hermiston, Oregon." On a side note, my parents always said they were from "eastern Oregon" but until I actually moved here I had no idea where Hermiston was located. Anyway, once my dad retired we moved to Athena, "eastern Oregon." Athena is about an hour east of Hermiston. I think I met one or two people at school who were NOT born and raised in Athena (or the neighboring towns of Helix, Adams, and Weston). They were born in Pendleton (half an hour west of Athena). It's not possible to tell someone who's never been an hour from their home that I'm "from" their part of the world when I'd never even lived there before.

Because Athena was so small and everyone knew who we were before we moved in, I almost never had to answer this question. But now that I'm in college, with a student body so diverse that people might have actually been born on the other side of the state, my answers have gotten more complex. Whenever people ask me from whence I came I must now return "Do you want the long answer or the short answer?" Typically The Curious request the short, followed by the long. The short is that I'm from Walla Walla. The long is "My dad was a Marine officer for 23 years, so I grew up all over." Surprise and awe quickly follow, as does the forehead-slappingly ignorant shock inevitably expressed when I tell them I was born in Japan: "You're Japanese?!" Such a question was acceptable in the third grade. When a 20-something college student thinks I'm foreign because I was born in another country I immediately have to fight down the urge to screw with them. "Yes, I'm Japanese. I actually work for the Japanese government. Yeah, they're paying for my degree."

+ This is why I hate CNN:
First of all, the title doesn't make sense. "How to save a friend from the brink." The brink of what? Oh, suicide. Coulda been disaster, extinction (not far off, I suppose), divorce. Second, if they're describing suicide as standing dangerously close to a precipice, why then did they illustrate their story with an image of a woman about to burst through a womb?

+ Jessica: A girl in our ward in Virginia got paralyzed after hitting a tree while sledding. Yeah, my stories aren't funny. I think your next blog post needs to be about the woman who felt like a man. Unless you've already blogged about it, in which case I think you need to direct me toward that gem post-haste.