It all started with a lot of coffee, a calligraphy brush, and a stupid crush. Well, the crush wasn’t stupid, I guess, because I ended up marrying the guy.
But let’s back up a couple of years. I met the man who would become my husband the first day of my sophomore year of college. He helped me move into the International Dorm, carrying my heavy trunks and telling me “My nickname is ‘Muscles’ because I have big, large muscles.” I thought he was a bit too silly and carefree; he thought I was a bit too scary and serious.
We became friends, then best friends, then lovers, and then husband and wife.
Somewhere in the middle of that, a couple of weeks before we started dating, we were at a Japan club event on campus. The Japanese study abroad students were teaching dorm-mates how to draw complicated kanji on thin sheets of paper. You could tell who had taken an Asian language class before, there were characters ranging from 人to 龍.
I was stressed from work and classes, so instead of doing more Japanese, I grabbed a brush and said “you draw me, I will draw you.”
He drew a stick figure. I didn’t.
Growing up, I wanted to be an artist. By the time I got to high school, I realized that was a stupid idea (“You will end up a starving artist” people told me. “Art is fun as a hobby, but not a career.”) and switched to the sciences.
My decision to quit drawing was simple, really. In the summer of my junior year of college, I set out to prove all the “nay-sayers” wrong. I was going to get my work displayed in a gallery, sell a couple paintings, and rub it in everyone’s faces. I rounded up a bunch of prints of my paintings and took them to every gallery in town.
No one would display the artwork.
I stopped drawing that summer. Drawing had lost its magic.
Everyone was right, it seemed. I didn’t have what it took to be a professional artist.
I moved on. I fell in love with internet marketing and politics (don’t ask me why).
By the time I met and married my husband, I hadn’t held a brush in nearly six years.
I started drawing again that afternoon, dying to impress this cute Japanese boy with rock-solid abs and a killer sense of humor.
I guess it worked. Two weeks later, I opened my door and found him on bended knee with a strawberry ring pop and the question “Will you be my girlfriend?”
Of course I said yes.
As time passed, I started drawing again. I wanted to preserve the magic of our relationship – I wanted to keep some sort of proof that (at one point, at least) I was truly happy with my life. And then I did the unthinkable, I actually showed my then-boyfriend my artwork.
He loved it.
Later, when I was planning for the wedding and running out of time to blog, he told me “Why don’t you just post some of your comics instead?”
I laughed it off. He kept pushing it.
I published my first couple comics on our honeymoon and they ended up being wildly popular. So I kept drawing.
I drew about us- our struggles in an AMWF relationship, our hilarious cultural misunderstandings, and our daily life.
Now we are married and living in Japan. Life is nothing at all like I expected it turn out.
Thankfully, my love for drawing hasn’t.
Grace Buchele Mineta is a native Texan, founder of the hit blog “Texan in Tokyo,” and author of the autobiographical comic book, “My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy.” She lives in Tokyo with her husband, Ryosuke, where she blogs and draws comics about their daily life.
“My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy: The Comic Book” is the autobiographical misadventures of a native Texan freelancer and her Japanese “salaryman” husband: in comic book form. From earthquakes and crowded trains, to hilarious cultural faux pas, this comic explores the joys of living and working abroad, intercultural marriages, and trying to make a decent pot roast on Thanksgiving.