Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Iwakuni Takeaway: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

So, I wanted to save this sayonara post as my last one, with a bold, resonating message and an epic mike drop as I boarded the plane bound for the States Saturday morning.

But blogs don't have microphones (well, at least mine doesn't... I'm old school like that) and I think I'd rather end my days in Iwakuni on a more positive note. Plus, I'm not cool enough to execute an epic mike drop. But the two purposes behind this post are incredibly important to me, so I am going to write about them.

Purpose #1: You're gonna have a lot more fun here if you get involved in something you are passionate about.

Purpose #2: No matter what you do, you're gonna have haters.

I know some of you out there have followed this blog since the first moment I announced we were moving from Pensacola to Japan (thanks, Mom), others have happened upon it when you Googled "Iwakuni" and "commissary" in the search box. A handful of you have stopped me to let me know how much this blog helped you look forward to your time here and get acclimated to this amazing, yet unusual, lifestyle. Others just, for some crazy reason, find me entertaining. Whatever the reason, I'm glad. I'm glad I've improved your life in some small way, whether it was assisting with Space A travel tips, telling you what's going on in my life of adventures (you're welcome, Mom) or simply giving you a much-needed laugh at the end of a tough day. It has been my pleasure.

In 2012, I started focusing my blog on my life in Iwakuni because 1) that's where I was going to live and 2) there was little to no accurate information about life here. I Googled into the wee hours of the morning several times in January 2012, trying search word combinations that I thought would pop up a magical website that would answer all of my Iwakuni questions. Yeah... no. So, being the blogger that I became back in 2007, I figured I would share helpful - and sometimes entertaining - information as I encountered it. I wanted to help other people like me enjoy their time here and avoid pitfalls I may have found myself digging my way out of as I navigated the base community and galavanted across the wilds of Japan.

But it wasn't just through blogging. I volunteered to write for the base's Preview magazine. I became a LINKS mentor (for those of you who are not in the Marine Corps this is an organization for spouses to find support, information and, well, friends) and I often gave a speech about surviving your significant other's deployments... because I have survived a few and became stronger because of it. I also volunteered to teach English to Japanese spouses and to answer any questions they had about Marine Corps life.

With three other people I founded the Iwakuni Home-based Business Organization, or IHBO, to help people affiliated with the base grow their businesses, whatever they might be. With help, I planned two business expos a year so business owners could get their products and services out into the community.

I started a Facebook group to encourage spouses to get off base and go on day trips around the area, usually to take pictures of something and eat stuff. And maybe get naked together in a huge pool of hot water. (This is called onsening... see that search box at the top left of this page? Type in the word onsen and you'll see what I am talking about. Well... maybe not actually see...)

One time I even rented the Sakura theater for a night to show classic 80's movies and invited ALL of the ladies on base to join us for a night of Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and leg warmers. It was so rad!

I became a moderator on the Iwakuni Classifieds and Information Facebook Page. I was a command team advisor for the smallest squadron on base, MACS-4. And, despite what a lot of people think, it's tough to be a small squadron... fewer resources and a lot more red-headed step-child treatment. Although, my loud mouth did manage to get MACS-4 on the MCAS Iwakuni home page... finally. It was scary that January when I was Googling Iwakuni and I couldn't even find my husband's squadron on the official base web site! Uh, honey, are you sure that's where we're going? I don't see anything with a four listed at all... and nothing about a guy named Mack...

I launched a couple of businesses on base, and while I did charge for my services (I am not a charity, after all), I feel as though I helped people. Through my photography, I gave women the opportunity to see themselves as beautiful as the world sees them. I gave families priceless images of their time in Japan. I inspired more than 100 people to pick up their cameras and take their photos to the next level as they captured moments of their travels and kids. With my crafting business, I gave ladies a chance to break away from life and the left side of their brains, and allow them to create a scrapbook or home decor piece they were proud to show off. I think, through my work, I made some lives just a little bit brighter.

I know it sounds like I am listing off items on my resume. And I guess I kind of am, but my point is that I was INVOLVED. I chose things I was passionate about (education, sharing helpful information, business growth, marketing, travel) and put my efforts and talents where they were needed. I didn't just sit back and complain to my friends about how there was nothing to do, how the Classifieds page was an unruly mess, or how I couldn't get my business launched in a community marred by bureaucratic red tape. I jumped in and tried to make it better for everyone.

And I had so much FUN! It wasn't always easy, but it was so incredibly rewarding. Time has flown by, I have made some amazing friendships, met inspiring people and renewed my zest for life. The best part is that I think I am leaving Iwakuni a little bit better than I found it. And that's what everyone should strive to do.

So those were my good deeds.

I feel like I gave a lot of time effort and talent to the community, and there are many people who have said they appreciated it. You are more than welcome. It was my absolute pleasure. Thank you for your part in making my life here an incredible experience.

But, as I am sure you have heard, and as this blog post title says, the good deeds didn't go unpunished.

There are some people who don't like me. (Surprise!) Most prevalent are my lovely cyber bullies. Yes, I have enjoyed being cyber bullied by members of the community in public forums. And frankly, once the shock wore off (someone noticed me enough to hate me and write about it???), I found it amusing. A few examples for your viewing pleasure:

Oh, honey. I am not a teenage girl with a lack of self-esteem. This is not my first rodeo. I couldn't care less what you think of my ball gown, my "lady clique" friends or my pride in my son. I am having FUN and minding my own business... I'm just amazed that my life holds so much interest for you. Don't you have your own??

Scarlet O'Hara's curtains were harmed in the making of this dress.
You are a frightened little person who is screaming for attention from behind the supposed safety of your page. Well, here you go. Here is your 15 minutes of pseudo-fame. Enjoy:

I am ever so glad you picked me to harass. Because not everyone is as strong and self-aware as I am. Not everyone has at least a dozen (you miscounted) friends who would pick up baseball bats for me and charge on to a (figurative... we have a little bit of class, believe it or not) empty lot to throw down. Not everyone has a husband who had to be talked down from kicking your (not figurative) ass.

Some people don't realize how amazing they are. Some people lack confidence. Some people believe the bullshit spewed from a major jackass behind an "anonymous" post. Some people don't have the fabulous support system I do. Some people might have, God forbid, hurt themselves for remarks like the ones you made about me. And you, you sad little excuse for a human, would have had to live with that. For the sake of your victims, I hope it never comes to that.

And go ahead and use bravado to try and justify your actions. Call me names, tell me I'm "butt hurt" and that you have the freedom of speech. You are so right. You absolutely do have freedom of speech. I just hope you're prepared to live with the consequences of what you say.

OK, your 15 minutes are up.

So, Iwakuni community (or anyone else, really... this is a universal request), if you find some other jackass who likes to call out individuals in their public Facebook group rants, I hope you, as a member of the community, will make the effort to shut it down. It would be better for the bully if you did it, because who knows what NCIS would do to them...

And to those of you out there being cyber bullied... I urge you to raise your internal middle finger and keep being you. You are fantastic. You are unique. And you need to remember that mean people are scared people. Choose to be brave.

In conclusion, if you're trying to make the most of your time in Iwakuni, find something you're passionate about (unless it's belittling people, of course) and go do it! If you don't have haters, then you're doing something wrong! ;)  There are plenty of opportunities to create your own fun and make a difference. Peacock dyed hair and 80's costumes not required... but recommended. And always, always, choose to be brave.


Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

I love your gown! It shows an enormous amount of creativity and character, and it's waaaaay classier than some of the other fashions I've seen around here... Keep being the beautiful and unique YOU, and best of luck in your upcoming adventures!

Jessica Guthrie said...

Thank you, Sarah... When I decided to be creative and give a nod to the history of the Corps I had no idea it would be so controversial!

Jessica Guthrie said...


Lisa Spiegel said...

Jess- you are fierce. Don't ever let anyone tell you you aren't. I admire your zest for life and your extremely good heart. Looking forward to hearing about your next chapter!!

Jessica Guthrie said...

Thank you, Lisa! I'm looking forward to the next chapter too!