I’ve met a ton of non-children this week, as I was getting ready for my son’s first day of elementary school. Teachers, secretaries, bus drivers… but most importantly: OTHER PARENTS (otherwise known as O.P.s).
I knew from our first days of preschool last year that O.P.s, upon hearing my accent and my foreign-sounding name, invariably ask the same questions (which all make perfect sense, it’s only natural).
O.P.s want to know where I’m from and why I’m here (of all places). Do they pronounce my name right? Is my husband French as well ? He is Minnesotan, but we met in Japan.
“How weird ! Were you working there ? What do you do exactly?”
THE dreaded question.
“I translate and localize manga, from Japanese to French, and I’m a paper artist on the side”.
I lose them the very moment I finish my sentence. A) Two words in there make no sense to most of them (“manga” and “localize”), and B) What’s a “paper artist”, anyways?
There is no time for lengthy explanations during those busy first weeks. O.P.s like smooth introductions. They want to make sure you seem relatively sane and, possibly, that you will volunteer at school and attend P.T.A. meetings.
From now on, I’ll just say I work in the language industry. Better keep the details for later. That is, if they’re interested.
Now, non-parents you meet in creative circles have a completely different attitude when it comes to introductions. First, they’ll want to know what materials you work with, what workshops you took, under the guidance of what artists…
Then, and only then, they might ask you about your “day-job”. As I understand it, it refers to what you do when you’re not working on your art, to put food on the table (among other things). I can’t think of a exact equivalent in French.
“What’s you day-job”? I’ve met people who teach, work as designers, shop clerks, waiters, paramedics… but also journalists, massage therapists, housewives… There is no wrong answer when it comes to day-jobs. Whatever you do, you will get no quizzical looks.
“I translate and localize manga. What’s your day job?”