Tag Archive | communication

The Japanese Mind – Haragei

I’ve been working on this blog, Ascension of Luna, for over two years and over 100 entries. Most of my entries exceed 1,000 words, which isn’t difficult to do when I’m really passionate or excited to talk about a subject or even to tell a story from my life. You could say I’m driven by emotion, that I pour out my heart into each entry.

However, the Japanese have a saying: “words are the root of all evil.” Yeah, I know, in the Bible, money is the root of all evil. But to the Japanese, it’s words and communication. I suppose the phrase isn’t wrong. How many times have people said, “I’m going to kill him,” when they’re angry and frustrated, though they have no actual intention of committing murder? Or my last entry, about uchi and soto, could be misinterpreted as me being against my country because I brought up some negative aspects about it (but let’s face it, you can change things any way you want, and someone would still want things to be different).

Maybe I should quit this entry while I’m ahead? After all, I’m just starting the third paragraph and I may have already bothered someone. But perhaps I should practice haragei instead.

Hara translates to “belly,” while gei means “art.” Hold on, that can’t be right. How would the words for “belly” and “art” refer to communication? Let me check the book… it literally means, “art of the stomach,” and it’s how the Japanese convey what they’re thinking or feeling without actually saying it.

“Hey, we do this too!” you say, enthusiastically. “Why, just the other day, I took my roommate’s clothes out of the washing machine and left them in a laundry basket, soaking wet, because I’ve been waiting 3 days to do my laundry and I needed to get my point across.” No, you’re confusing haragei for being passive-aggressive, and it’s completely different. Think of a group of people wanting to do something fun and adventurous, five of them want to do a haunted house attraction, but the sixth person wants to ride the roller coasters at an amusement park. The sixth person isn’t likely to give her suggestion, but she will probably hesitate and not be emphatic when she agrees to do what the rest of the group has decided.

“Why didn’t she just speak up? Maybe someone else in the group would think that going to the amusement park is just as good as going to the haunted house.” That’s the thing; if she spoke her mind, she would be outside the group, which would bring us back to uchi/soto. The idea is to keep the rest of the group satisfied, even if it means giving up what you want. Also, it’s possible that a differing opinion can be viewed as an attack on the person directly and not just their opinion, so in the end, it’s best to not “rock the boat” and cause a conflict.

It sounds like the perfect way of communicating, right? You can never say you opposed a plan or an idea, because you never said those words directly. You avoid countless arguments with friends and family this way as well. And yet, maybe you’re seeing some of the potential issues. After all, if you’re getting bored of Starbucks all the time, and your friends interpret your response to going as if something else is bothering you, then they’re not likely to change where they go to get a coffee. Or if that dress really does make your wife look fat, and she wears it anyway because you held your tongue and didn’t want to start an argument, it could backfire when she looks at any pictures taken of her when you both are out for the evening together.

I was reading CultureShock! Japan recently, which said that Japanese people often “ghost” not only the people they’re dating but also their friends. “Ghosting” is the term used to describe the act of ceasing all further contact with another person without telling the other person that you’re going to stop talking to them. Being someone from the West, where ghosting is also a common practice, it seems infuriating to be ghosted, as you want some kind of closure, you want an explanation of why the person isn’t talking to you anymore. But in Japan, it’s a matter of using as few words as possible to express what you want while trying to avoid conflict.

And then there’s me. I never feel as if I’ve expressed myself clearly, so I say more than I should at times. Or if someone stops talking to me, I send a message and ask if I said or did something wrong or if they’re dealing with something in their own life (usually I figure I did something wrong). I’m also someone who has been told that my mouth will get me in trouble; you would think I’ve learned something, but I guess I haven’t had the right lessons. Well, if I’m going to Japan, I suppose this should be my lesson, otherwise I’m not likely to make too many friends while I’m there.

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Follow The Love

In Japan, you can find a variety of cafes which cater to your every whim, from fandom-based cafes with themes like Sailor Moon and My Little Pony, to animal cafes where you can dine with owls and rabbits, and even cuddle cafes where you can curl up next to a cute girl for an hour and just talk and relax.

Perhaps a trip to Japan is exactly what I need.

Today was probably the first day in a few days that I’ve felt like my cheerful self again, and I have no one to thank for it but myself and my own biology.

I can’t seem to properly convey my biological stresses, to begin with. It’s possible that I have a condition that throws my hormones out of whack, so when it’s almost that time when the hormone levels change, I have a change in needs as well. My craving for cuddles, my need to be kissed, knowing I’m going to be denied these things if I ask, it all made me feel so lonely and sad, which was probably also the hormones talking.

Then Libra and I were talking, and it got up to the topic of how I wanted to be cuddled. His reply was to say, “because you want a boyfriend, and I can’t be that for you.” We dropped the conversation, which was just as well since it was going nowhere, but I couldn’t figure out why it bothered me so much.

Today at work, I had more than enough time to dwell on my thoughts.

I took out a pad of paper and wrote down, “guys who would cuddle me,” then thought realistically about it and added, “if I lived with them and schedules allowed.” J was on that list, as we often sat side-by-side on his bed and watched an episode of a show we were working on, then I’d go down the hallway to my room. Then I wrote down Pete, because even though I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve platonically shared a bed, the fact remains that he is a bit affectionate.

Next I wrote down, “guys who would kiss me.” And again, J and Pete. I’m just talking about a peck on the lips or the cheek, a loving kiss that’s not lewd. I know J would ask for a kiss before I departed from visiting him, and I know Pete would kiss me again if I give him the chance.

“Guys who have said ‘I Love You’ in the past few days.” Pete said this to me, after a brief vent from me. I felt kinda bad that I vented to him in the early hours of his birthday, but I ignored his replies so I could focus on sleep, then replied with an “I love you too” sometime after waking. I have friends who aren’t that close to me, but who will still say “I love you” to their friends, and I’m not uncomfortable with it because you should feel that strongly about the people you surround yourself with. You should love your friends, you should make sure they’re alive and are trying to stay alive, you should care enough to pick them up when they’re down, you should keep them from harming themselves or others. If you don’t love your friends, are they just… there?

“Guys I would date or who would date me.” Well, that’s the fun part. J has already stated that he’s not interested in dating me, though he had considered it at one time. Pete would date me, I could be his primary this time around, since last time I was secondary when he had a fiancée (it was complicated, but it was polyamorous). I have nothing against Pete, I just can’t see myself dating him. After some time away from him, spent with my ex fiancé, Pete became one of my best friends because we stopped trying to make a complicated situation work, and friendship and understanding came naturally after that.

When I put it in writing, I realized something. I was bothered by Libra’s unwillingness to give me affection, not because I was still hoping that Libra would be in a relationship with me, but because I have guy friends who are affectionate towards me and one of us isn’t looking to date the other.

I was so bored at work, my mind had all of these ridiculous slippery slope arguments. If we hang out, I might think it’s a date, because I’m looking for a boyfriend. If we get dinner, we should get separate checks, that way I don’t get the wrong idea and think he’s trying to be my boyfriend by paying for my food. I should just buy food for myself at the grocery store, anyway, otherwise it might look like I’m a live-in girlfriend and not just his housemate and friend. I couldn’t help but giggle to myself, because that’s how the whole situation sounded to me.

I missed being woken up to him laying beside me at my back. I missed cuddling in general. And if I imagine anyone curled up next to me, the feeling of comfort is still the same. But in my saddest moments recently, I wasn’t looking to put a title on a relationship. I was looking for platonic physical acts to release some feel-good chemicals into my system.

For tomorrow, I decided to take myself to the duck pond. I asked Libra, who protested because geese are apparently vicious, so I canceled the plan for us to go on Sunday. I mean, it also seemed like going out on a date, which is forbidden! So I’ll spare him from listening to me talk about how Mom would sometimes bring us to the duck pond, and how one time we drove in and then turned around and left because some people were using it for a “date spot” (I didn’t see what happened, but I’m thinking it was more scandalous than just kissing). Libra had asked me to think of something else as well that would be worth his while, so I suggested going to the mall. I didn’t tell him I was going to take him to the go-kart track in the mall, but that sounds like a date, the fact that I wanted to race him in go-karts. Suddenly, hanging out with J at an archery range sounds more enjoyable, because at least we have an understanding that it’s not a date at this point.

A phrase echoed in my mind while I was still at work, and I considered doodling it on paper. Either, “follow the love,” or “go where there’s love,” or something along those lines. It doesn’t have to be romantic love, just the caring and affection. Go where you won’t feel lost or lonely. Speak to those who you know will listen. Everyone has some kind of issue going on in their life; if someone helps you get through your problem, try to return the favor.

But overall, follow the love.

Map out the love.

Be a beacon so others can find love.

And as always, love yourself before others. Know your needs and wants, and always remember that you deserve to be happy.

Dark Side Of The Luna

I hit a low point recently, which prompted me to write a status message on Facebook that got me a small amount of attention.

It started with Libra, with arguing and everything else. Then after things calmed down, he suggested I should talk to a therapist because I sound depressed.

My status message on Facebook was to say that I know I’m not depressed, that depression just is. I know the reasons why I’m coming off as depressed, because I’m actually having emotions.

I mean, imagine spending months on a project you were passionate about, and the day before all your effort will be presented to an audience, your house burns down, you break a leg, your dog gets hit by a car, and your closest friends aren’t speaking to you. Imagine how you would feel in that situation: hopeless, helpless, confused, isolated, lost. Now imagine none of those things happened, you wake up the next morning and you don’t see the point of getting out of bed, and when you do you can’t eat breakfast because nothing seems vaguely appealing. You might have a five-minute commute to present your project, but it feels like a hike through the desert, and thats after you manage to get out from under the 100-pound weight that’s resting on your back. Not to mention, what is the point of making this presentation? What if no one attends, or what if they’re not paying attention? You would have wasted all those months, for nothing, so you figure that not presenting is the same as presenting your project, it’s all the same. You feel all of this, but you don’t know why, no one has said anything to make you feel like giving up, you haven’t seen anyone presenting your ideas ahead of you or in a catchier fashion. You feel this emotional weight that you can’t describe, because you have no reason to feel this way. That’s depression.

For me, I can list the reasons why I feel the way I do.

When asked about my needs, I figured out what I needed at a given time and told Libra. It reached a point where he didn’t want to try to meet my needs and said so.

Little by little, he’s become less affectionate with me. When I notice a change and bring it up, it’s “nothing personal,” he’s “not in the mood” at that time, “we’ve talked about this.” Each time he becomes less affectionate, I do take it personally, because I wonder what I did wrong, if I got too close, was too caring, or if I was too bitchy, too “crazy,” or what happened. Even if it’s just how he’s feeling towards me, or in general, I would like to know.

This morning when I woke up, I stayed in bed and thought about all the things I enjoyed about waking up next to him, and felt bad because the only way I’d have that is if I asked for it, in that moment, and he was willing to come upstairs to be with me. It’s like how the sun rises every day, it just happens and everything is radiant and beautiful, and then the day comes when you have to write to your congressman to ask for the Earth to rotate again because you miss sunny days, and eventually you get one sunny day after the whole bureaucratic process. It’s not the same as it was before. I want to wake up to him cuddling me, not because I want it, but because he wants to wake up cuddling me as well. Having to ask for it doesn’t fulfill the emotional need, it just reminds me that he made the conscious decision to not care about my needs, all the while ignoring when I’m trying to anticipate his needs because I can’t turn it off.

I went downstairs, and he could tell something was bothering me. When he asked, I said I was fine, that nothing bothered me. He persisted, knowing that something was wrong. What’s the point in telling him? If I write it down or type up an email, he’ll skim over it and ignore it. If I tell him directly, he’ll cut the conversation short, or he’ll tell me it’s nothing and I’m taking it personally, or he’ll “remind” me that we’ve been over this.

I need to move out. Unfortunately, it costs more to live on my own, and I don’t have anyone else who’d be willing to take me in at the moment. But I can’t “get over” him, as long as I’m still here. And I can’t distance myself without him trying to figure out why I’m barely speaking to him or whatever. I am kept at arms’ length; he pushes me away if I get too close, and gets close when I’m trying to be away. If I tell him what he did that bothered me, he tells me he’ll stop but he says it like I offended him, which makes me feel bad because I wasn’t trying to upset him, I just didn’t want to deal with something that bothered me and asked for his understanding.

I know he has a lot going on in his life, which is why I try to do things like buying groceries, picking up things I know he might use or need so it’s one less thing to think about. But I can’t just put aside my emotions for him. There is no one in my circle who is like, “yeah, I’ve got this going on, but Marybeth really needs someone right now, she needs a night out, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen.” I have the people who are like, “we should hang out sometime,” which means we’re not likely to hang out anytime soon unless we’re both absolutely free at a given time and are willing to go out.

So, I have to focus on myself, on what I’m feeling, on what I need. I have to focus less on what he needs, because he can take care of himself.

And that’s bullshit, it really is. I’m just supposed to put up boundaries? I’m supposed to say, “I went to the grocery store, and the food I bought is for me, so please don’t touch it.” I’m supposed to wash only the dishes I’ve used, and only touch my laundry as it’s being done. I’m supposed to isolate myself in my room because there’s books I have yet to read and movies I want to watch, instead of spending time with him and keeping him company and in good spirits. It’s bullshit, because doing stuff for him always made me feel good, and I would happily accept the affection as payment because at least he was doing something for me in return. Now I wonder why I do it, if I’ve been too nice, if I haven’t done enough, or if I’ve really done something wrong.

I haven’t done anything wrong, I know this.

I firmly hope for someone to come along who will make me feel like I can’t do enough for them, not because they make me feel guilty for the things I haven’t done, but because they will react so warmly to the effort I’ve put forth. Like, if I ever manage to burn dinner, or even if some part of it gets screwed up, I want someone who’s going to either say or think, “wow, you did all this for me?” and then say, “you know what? It’s okay. Let’s just use this as an excuse to go to that restaurant we’ve been talking about lately.” Or maybe I just mention a concert I want to see, or a movie that’s coming to theaters soon, and they get tickets and we go together, and I feel blessed to have someone in my life who encourages my passions that I return the favor, even if it means sitting through a football game or something else that I have only a small interest in. And it doesn’t have to involve money changing hands, it could just be a foot rub at the end of the day, or drawing a bath, or doing a chore I need to finish while I’m busy with another chore. I’m not asking for someone to do everything while I do little to nothing, I want someone to take care of me because I take care of them.

I thought that was Libra, I thought my life was going to be balanced. I was wrong, but I’ll learn from this mistake.

Amour And More? Part One

Ah, February. I want to call it the month of love, but that seems obvious when you consider that Valentine’s Day is the midway point, it’s literally at the heart of the month. Hey, I rose to the occasion with the pun, and that one as well (rose? roses?).

Here in the Casa De J, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with us both getting a box of chocolates. I got him a tin that looked like Iron Man that was filled with chocolate, and since I wasn’t a fan of that brand of chocolate (regardless of the fact that they weren’t going to me), I bought him a bag of Valentine’s M&Ms as well. I got a Whitman’s Sampler box… from a Mr Smith, not from J. I didn’t get anything from J.

It’s been an interesting month, and I would have documented it sooner, but I’m still in the process of rearranging my bedroom.

I suppose I should begin somewhere. I feel like this is best told in two parts, his life and mine, yet it’s the overlapping events and emotions that connect the events of this month into a web of a story, it’s not simply linear. I will do my best to recap the whole thing, though any missing details are either for privacy or my brain skipped over them.

I suppose we should begin by saying that J is dating someone.

Their first date was spent here at the house, and it started before I had arrived home from work. When I got home, I presented myself and said a greeting, then I didn’t want to bother them or get in their way, so I excused myself and went to the kitchen to start doing dishes to pass the time. I don’t think I had been home for a full 10 minutes, in fact it felt like I had only been there for 5 minutes, and they were heading up to his bedroom.

I already had a weird feeling in my stomach prior to getting home, but suddenly I couldn’t settle down, I couldn’t do the dishes because I didn’t want to be standing or even in the kitchen, but I didn’t want to sit and play video games. I think a part of me wanted to be at the house, but part of me definitely wanted to leave and be somewhere else. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, though, or what I wanted to do. I just felt like, if I stayed I would have wished I had left, and if I left I might have wished I’d stayed.

I was supposed to be going out for karaoke and drinks with my cousin that night, but it was too early in the evening for me to get ready before we had planned on meeting, and I wasn’t going upstairs to get dressed while they were in his room, because I’d have to walk past his room to get to mine. I wasn’t sure what would bother me more, knowing they had to pause what they were doing because they heard me running around, or hearing what they were doing because they hadn’t paused for whatever reason. To be honest, I didn’t want to bother at all, but I was also not in the mood anymore to go out to karaoke.

I did leave the house. I put my boots back on, I got in my car and drove off to my favorite bakery where I got a piece of chocolate cake and an iced mocha. I hadn’t had dinner, but I was eating dessert. After I finished, I still didn’t know where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do, but I decided to drive past the house, only to find her car was still there. If I went back in, it would be like I had never left, so I drove to the mall. I found a decent parking spot in the underground garage, then sat in my car while trying to figure out what my next move was going to be.

I should add, I get this weird chill in my body a few times a day while at work, and I know it’s not from the air conditioning units because I don’t feel blowing air on my face or hands. Sometimes I feel that chill in my body when I’m at home. I felt that chill as I sat in my car, with the car turned off. Immediately after I felt the chill, I got a text from J saying that she had just left. I can’t explain anything about that chill, but just know that it happened.

I returned to the house. The scene that happened next could only be explained as me trying to verbally get out a feeling that I had no words to describe, and since I was overwhelmed, I was drawing from a place of fear. Thankfully, J was still on cloud nine, or at least he didn’t try to match my emotional output, because he remained calm and rational while I backed away from him when he tried to be affectionate towards me. It was as if I was processing everything he felt, as he later said he, too, felt scattered in that moment, but my mind was saying that any love or lust or whatever that I felt wasn’t aimed at me, even if it was.

I never went out for karaoke that night. I wasn’t in the mood to sing, or if I did, I’d have put too much emotion into it, and not the kinds of emotions you want to feel on a Saturday night. At least, I didn’t want to be that sad sap. But I was something sad, or depressed, or angry, or scared, or… something, even the next day when we went grocery shopping as usual. Then again, J has never yelled at me within the first 5 minutes of the drive to the store, threatening to drop me off at home and do the grocery run by himself because my company was less than pleasant. As we got closer to the store, he apologized for yelling at me, because he wished that he could make me feel better but didn’t know how. As we walked into the store, I turned to him and said that it was hard for me, because I wanted to be hugged and be comforted by the one person I had become too timid to hug. After we returned home and put away the groceries, I was starting to feel more like myself again, and I allowed him to hug me once more.

And I told him to change the sheets on his bed, I don’t sleep in his bed, but the thought of sitting where she might have been when they were, uh, cuddling,… I wasn’t comfortable with that. Thankfully, he honored my wishes.

Well, the whole thing cleared any doubts I had left, or at least most of them. So J is over the moon for this girl, and to be honest I am okay with it. But that means I should probably move on with my life. I can’t stay here forever, not while some part of me still thinks J and I should be a couple, and not while either one of us is in pursuit of a long-term romantic thing because potential partners may suspect we’re already a couple.

If it weren’t for the weather, I would have randomly driven to Patterson one day. Was it entirely the weather? At this point, I don’t think so, because I have a never-ending list of chores that I know I must do, and I probably did some of them instead that day. Nevertheless, I sent a message out of the blue to the friend who I was going to randomly try to meet for the first time, to let him know that I was randomly going to meet him. He asked me if it was a date, to which I asked if he wanted it to be one. He replied back and said that he was already in talks with this other girl, who he was going to meet in person sometime in May. I wished him well, then shrugged and figured the universe was punishing me for something and I was just going to deal with it.

But of course, it’s me, and I know the Powers That Be have a twisted sense of humor when it comes to my life.

The Dystopian Alternate Universes Often Go Unmentioned

There are some who believe in multiple universes, who envision the world with a slight change and suggest that the world exists in some way. The difference can be something as major as a different world leader in office, or something as seemingly insignificant as answering a phone call when you’re trying to get out the door to be someplace else. Maybe the South won the Civil War, maybe the Nazis took over or maybe Hitler never rose to power. Maybe Americans willingly sacrificed their rights to own guns because it was widely believed they weren’t needed, or maybe the gun-toting Americans rose up and fought to bring about a rebirth of their country. There are literally infinite possibilities for alternate worlds.

I’ve noticed one thing about the mention of alternate worlds. It’s always one pivotal event that changes everything, but nothing is ever discussed about how that world got to that pivotal moment or even what happened after that. Mind you, the end result is usually utopian in nature, because it seems as if no one really wants to think of how we could wind up in a dystopian society. And yes, it seems as if the alternate world centers around something large-scale, instead of assuming that there is an alternate world where everything is the same except that moment when you decided to hold the elevator for someone that you never saw again anyway.

With that said, imagine yourself in a world where you had a crush on a person, but instead of the real ending where it wasn’t to be, imagine you had a chance to date that person, and you did. Now ask yourself, if things hadn’t ended like they actually ended, but you actually got to date and become this person’s significant other, would your life be any better today or would it be worse off?

This entry has been in my head for a week or so, and it’s been anticipated by at least one reader. Fans of schadenfreude, rejoice! I hope I don’t disappoint!

The downside of letting entries occupy space in my head for extended periods of time means I don’t have the best recollection of conversations that are necessary to include, as a means of detailing how I acquired information in my life. But there was a conversation with J, which shouldn’t be a surprise because I occupy space in his house and pay him rent. And this was a wonderful conversation I had while crying, though I don’t remember why I was crying, I just remember it was leading up to or during that special time of the month that made me a bit more emotional than just having Pisces as my ascendant sign (yes, I am astrologically blessed, it is in the stars that I am to be an emotional wreck in life). So it was during this tear-soaked conversation that J said the words, “I had considered dating you.”

For those of you in the back who just snuck in, I was into J back in 2011 when I first started hanging out with him, over two years since we had worked together before I left that job. But I was angry about events in life that he was linked to (not directly, but more like six degrees of separation, where he was only separated by two degrees), and I kinda slapped his face, though not hard, just enough to get his attention. He asked that I leave his house immediately, and I did and thought I’d never look back. And now, of course, I live with him because that’s where life has taken me.

So of course I’ve been dwelling on all of that. He considered dating me, before I had slapped him. Why did I not care about slapping him, if I had a crush on him? Because I thought he just wanted to fool around, but I wanted to be in a relationship with someone again.

Had I known he wanted to date me, would I have still hit him? This feels like the major question to ask myself, and yet when I do, it feels like I’m weighing greed against my own guilt. Would I have still robbed the bank if I knew I was going to win the lottery? Well damn, who would have guessed it? Maybe you see the third outcome, which would have been to walk away and not hit him, and while it doesn’t guarantee absolute success, it comes with far less remorse. But sure, if I thought I could have had what I wanted, I would have refrained. I don’t quite remember what I felt back then, but it was as if I didn’t care what the outcome was, I didn’t think he was going to date me and so I no longer cared what he thought of me. I wanted to get away from the situation I was in, that he was linked to. Now I don’t even remember if it felt liberating or if it hurt to leave him behind like that.

After parting ways, I became closer friends with an acquaintance I made a few months prior. I trusted this person with details about my life at that time, and they seemed to care about me and hold me in high esteem. After my ex fiancé ended our relationship and I was scrambling to figure out what my next move was to be, I trusted this friend when I was told there was a rent-free trailer home in the near future that I could live in. The trailer home existed, but it needed a lot of work which wasn’t being done in a timely fashion. Worst of all, my brand new furniture and mattress, along with some heirloom furniture, were all left out in the elements to get ruined during this time. So I think to myself, if J and I started dating back then, I wouldn’t have trusted this person with my life or with other things that I couldn’t easily replace.

It was with my time spent with the untrustworthy friend that I went to a convention in New Jersey and met Pete. Okay, Pete is cool, I have nothing against Pete. We didn’t exactly date, we weren’t exactly in a relationship so to speak, but I can’t say more than that because there are things I haven’t explained about myself. But Pete and I had a bad day together, which came after I was building up frustration towards him because my concerns hadn’t been addressed and taken care of. But it was because of that bad day that I ended up meeting my ex fiancé. So, sure, if J and I started dating, I wouldn’t have met Pete, but Pete is one thing I actually don’t regret.

However, my time with the untrustworthy friend caused me to meet Pete, which in turn caused me to meet my now ex fiancé. And I think to myself, if I had nipped that bud, I would have never left for New Jersey, I might have stayed in Syracuse this whole time, and I’d probably have more of my inheritance left. I might still be working for Wegmans, though I might have quit working after I reached my five-year anniversary and pursued something with a higher pay elsewhere. Who knows, I might have just taken a couple of weeks off to go to Japan, since I would have had the money and a stable living space in Syracuse (assuming, of course, that my Mom’s passing forced me to move in with J if I wasn’t already living with him).

That’s assuming, of course, that J and I had a relationship that lasted up to my Mom’s passing. I’d like to think that a year or two with him would have been enough, that if it all ended, I could say that it happened, that a chance was taken. After that, if he dated anyone else, I probably wouldn’t mind so much. At that point, I’d know I really wasn’t the right one.

That’s not to say that we would definitely part ways amicably. Maybe he would emotionally wound me to the point where I stopped talking about it, only to resent him more strongly as time passed. Perhaps I would be the toxic, abusive partner, possibly just making myself seem like a victim to coerce him into always feeling like I need his kindness. It’s actually something I fear, becoming the toxic partner, so I’m rather quick to add that my feelings are my own and they’re my responsibility to deal with them. I abhor the feeling that I’m ruining a good mood when I can’t share in that good mood, because I’d rather not bring people down. But who knows, maybe my inability to always be chipper and cheerful would be the reason why things ended, because I had stopped being fun and felt it necessary to be serious for a moment.

But in an alternate universe, I didn’t hit him, and we dated, and the things that are affecting me now had never happened because circumstances prevented them from happening. The things that mean so much now are the result of the smallest events from back then. I was a foolish 26-year-old, now I’m a 33-year-old who sees one event, one seemingly insignificant choice as being the moment that I lost something I’ve been wanting for so long.

Pardon my self-loathing, but I am responsible for all the things I wish had never happened to me, I caused myself to not get what I wanted, and I have to live with the remorse.

In an alternate world, well, maybe it would all be different somehow.

Girlfriend Litmus Test

I loosely decided upon a New Year’s resolution for this year. I decided I was going to finish one of the stories I’ve already started writing. I already have an idea of what parts I’m going to rewrite. The one major issue I actually have is finding the time to work on it, though I did come up with a solution to that.

I should back up a few weeks. J and I were returning from our weekly grocery shopping excursion, and I don’t even know how the topic came up, but he asked me what I’d want to do in life. If I said anything along the lines of making sure I could financially support myself, he rejected that idea, asking what would make me happy and fulfilled. I didn’t want to mention writing, because it’s not supporting me financially in any way right now, so I can’t give up my actual job in pursuit of something that might never be able to support me. But finally I did mention it to him, that I had two started stories on my computer.

That was the last time my writing was mentioned, but it stayed on my mind. I thought about what I had written so far, how I wanted to change or improve what was there. I contemplated making an outline or a chart or something of how I wanted the story to go, or writing up profiles of my characters so I had a certain set of rules for myself to follow. I bought the book There’s Something I Want To Tell You by Yuta Aoki, which is a compilation of real stories about one Japanese partner and one foreign partner, because I figured I could use it as research if not just for my own personal amusement.

As December, and thus the year as well, drew to a close, I became more certain that I was going to get back to writing, to finishing that story.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I asked J about being in a relationship, to which he restated for the second or third time that he didn’t see me romantically. After everything, I needed to hear that once more.

The next time we went for groceries, I brought up the time when he couldn’t keep his hands off me for just over a week after I brought home a coworker’s phone number. “I don’t want to bring home some guy’s phone number just to see if you’d do that again,” I told him, on the verge of tears.

“Well then,” he replied. “Don’t.”

But how am I supposed to take that? For someone who says he’s been straightforward with his words, that still left me to wonder what he meant, since he didn’t say anything else after that. Don’t bring home any more phone numbers from other guys? Don’t try to see if you can get that reaction out of me? So do I not try to progress my romantic life, or is it just about testing him because it won’t work?

Things got tense on New Year’s Eve. I’d try to do the right thing or be helpful in some way, which was actually helpful, but in the process I’d somehow manage to almost make a mess, or put something in the wrong place. My confidence shaken, I started feeling like it would be better if I just didn’t try doing nice things. But I was teasing J about how I wouldn’t be able to put something in a certain spot, or another spot, or another spot… basically exaggerating how particular he can be and how things get moved around so much that I can’t guarantee that I’d be able to set something where I think it should go. It hit a nerve and flared up his temper. I picked up my stuff, put away food and put utensils in the sink, and told him I was going to spend the rest of the evening in my room. I was shaken to where I felt it would just be better if I didn’t bother him anymore that night. Perhaps he calmed down because I didn’t escalate things, that I was going to retreat, because he said he was enjoying my company. It was enough to make me change my mind about going upstairs, but I wasn’t back to the level of fun that I was before.

Midnight rolled around, which meant first kiss of the new year. I tried to say that I’d only do the first kiss of the new year with someone I was involved with, but that didn’t really deter J. So now I can’t help but feel like that kiss was meaningless, at least for this year.

If there is one thing I’ve changed, it’s that I stopped washing his travel coffee mug and lunch container. I’ve washed it maybe once or twice this month so far, but otherwise I don’t get the same feeling from doing it anymore. When I started, it was like, “teeheehee, he’ll wake up and look for it, and realize it’s been cleaned, and it will make him smile that morning because I’ve made his life a tiny bit easier!” Now he’s noticing that it’s not getting cleaned, but I started prioritizing what I want or need to do for me. Now it seems like he’s expecting it, and I blame myself for even starting to do it. Now it’s not as much fun for me, and I don’t know if it’s because he started expecting me to do it, or because I’ve started to feel like it’s meaningless.

I suppose everything that’s happened here these past few months could be taken as a girlfriend litmus test of sorts. Did she laugh at that comedian who I think is hysterical? Nope, not a girlfriend. How well did she bake or cook, especially compared to previous girlfriends? Nope, not a girlfriend. Does she enjoy that show I said she should watch? She didn’t react as I thought she should react to it, so nope, not a girlfriend.

He enjoys spending time with me, he likes when I do things with him and for him, it’s not just a matter of letting me carry out my life however I want to in the moment. But I can’t say to people, “I’m the title short of being his girlfriend,” because the truth is, if he actually wanted me as such, if he ever saw me romantically, then I’d already be his girlfriend. To me, he acts more like a boyfriend than anything else, or maybe I have some lousy friends.

So that’s it, then. We spend our time acting less like we’re just two people living together, and more like we’re two people making a life together. But I’m like the snow outside, I can be pretty to look at if you see the untouched parts of me, but otherwise I just make things a mess and you probably can’t wait until I’m gone, which means it’s a good thing that I’m only here temporarily. No, I don’t have immediate plans to move out, that’s not what I’m saying, but I don’t have a reason to stay permanently. So one day, I will be gone from here. By then, he will probably have a girlfriend, it won’t be me, so I won’t have anything to keep me here. But if I’ve failed the girlfriend litmus test, then I’m not meant to stay here.

At least I can say that we did fix what was once broken. It’s more than I can say about the friend I was living with before I moved in with J. I find it interesting that the worst I can say is, “I have feelings for him again but he doesn’t feel the same way,” and I can be melancholy about that but completely honest to myself about how I feel and what’s going on, whereas I was dealing with a friend who didn’t want to do much of anything with me, who basically told me that I was a problem and I was making things worse for her family, who didn’t even try to help me by listening and talking to me post-breakup and eviction, and whose life hasn’t changed even though I don’t live there anymore. If the worst thing is learning that one girl isn’t really my friend, that I now live with a guy who should have been my friend all along, then I’m still heading in the correct direction.

Another Revolution Around The Burning Sun

“Your password expires in 7 days.”

I’ve managed to hold my job for three months. If one of the perks is that I actually get to change my password, then a celebration is in order.

I did change my work password last night. I typed in the old password, which began with the name of my friend from Japan. For the new password, I chose to reference Moondragon, a Marvel comic book character that I never knew existed until Saturday night. Gone will be anything that will remind me of my Japanese friend.

Facebook has been reminding me of lat year’s split from the ex fiancé, not only of the day itself but also the days following. I, of course, had already popped in to OKCupid to see when it was that my Japanese friend first wrote to me. I wanted to write to him and say “hey, it’s been a year since you first wrote to me!”

But, I didn’t write to him. At all.

I had already said I’m done, but this time I felt like I was in a better place emotionally to make that call.

I have a long way to go before I can consider going to Japan in any capacity. Knowing that, I wanted him to come here, even just briefly. He told me I would have to come up with a plan for him to be here. I’ve made many plans, and considered many possibilities. The problem is, I can’t make plans for where he’ll stay if I don’t know for how long he would be here, or if one place would cost too much for him and another place just wouldn’t be good enough. I can’t make plans for where he would work, if I’ve only been given vague responses to that question, and don’t even know if he would be staying long enough and would need employment to survive.

But why did I have to make that plan… alone? If any part of him was serious about coming here, then he should have at least met me halfway. “Can you recommend a hotel that’s decent but not too fancy? Do you know of any companies that would hire someone with this kind of expertise?” I would have appreciated anything to guide me towards a plan that would work for him, for both of us.

Some people can be difficult. He was difficult, and at times he was impossible.

It’s not even that hard to make plans if you have an idea of what you want. My complaint was that he wouldn’t cross an ocean for me, and I told him so. And I didn’t care. I guess that made me brash, pompous, and a lot of other words that are characteristic of being American. But if I had to think about how he’s being Japanese, then I’d be reading between the lines, and he would have already been telling me that he wouldn’t cross an ocean for me, that it didn’t matter if he ever met me or not.

I feel like we ran out of things to talk about. It was always my debt, or the fact that I was still staying up until 2 am, or anything I did that was bad for my health while trying to tell me I should be walking more and eating better. I could have mentioned anything, from video games to Japanese food and festivals. Half the time, if not more often than that, I wouldn’t even get a response to whatever I said or asked. Other times, he barely seemed interested, with the extent of his interest being if he had a family of his own to do things with.

He remarked that I talked less while we chatted, compared to when I wrote email. I asked if he preferred chatting with me because of that, to which he remarked that it was an observation. But lately, my emails received the response of “I’ll be available to chat around this time on these days.” It was just before bed for him, but for me it was the start of my day, which meant I either had to get up early regardless of my plans for the day or I had to chat with him while getting ready for work. I missed the days when it was reversed, when he would catch me at the end of my day and he was just starting the next day.

But I’ve been writing to him less since moving in with J. Not as much has been happening, either. Well, I could talk about going to the store with J, but that seems mundane. Work is work; I answer the phone and make calls all day, and I’m not allowed to discuss my calls at all. At home, i cook and watch Daredevil with J. Nothing about my days stand out as much anymore, so I have less to write about.

So, that’s the end of that.

I got a letter in the mail recently, from the collection agency that holds my debt to my New Jersey apartment owners. They’re offering to reduce my debt from just under $10,000 to about $6,600. The difference is the cost of going to Japan, and a little extra. It would be a little less to worry about, just in general. I might manage to get my debt paid off sooner than expected.

Even on my days off, I can’t seem to sleep past 9 am, but like clockwork I manage to wake up around 6 or 7 am. Even waking at 9, after I’ve told myself I can be lazy and sleep in until 11 or later because I have nothing of great import and no place to be, I feel like it’s just time to start the day. I can’t seem to sleep late like I used to do. And unless I try, unless I make myself sit in front of the computer and write a lengthy email, or I try to play video games for a few hours, I can’t stay up until 2 am anymore. For the past two nights, I’ve called it a night around 11 pm.

My life is changing in ways that would gain the approval of my Japanese friend. However, it feels right to close that chapter of my life. He entered when my ex fiancé left, he kept my Valentines Day from being miserable, and perhaps all I needed was just someone to keep me going.

Not that J is a romantic partner. He had already said he doesn’t see me romantically, and another guy friend of mine says that won’t change once a guy says something like that. Yet I’m in this limbo of “he did this nice thing, so… maybe?” and “I see how he looks at his ex, or how he talks about his date ideas and how past dates have gone, and I’m clearly not a love interest.”

Saturday he was telling me about one girl he dated, or at least how the dates went. This was while we were perusing a discount store and checking out the books they had for sale. He was telling me how the date didn’t go so well, in that they didn’t have much in common. At one point, he started flipping through an encyclopedia of Marvel Comics characters, when he came to a page that said Moondragon.

I laughed and pointed out that there was a character named Moondragon.

“Yeah,” J repled. “I thought that’s who you named yourself after,” referring to the Luna Dragon moniker I bestowed upon myself. I have a very basic knowledge of comics and the DC and Marvel universes, so this was one character I had no knowledge about. I briefly read her description and noted that she kind of sounded like me. “Right?!” J said in agreement.

“Your password expires in 7 days” came the prompt on the screen at work. I had already been thinking of changing it to get my Japanese friend’s name out of the password, but I hadn’t taken the time to think of a new password. Although I had the rest of the week to consider it, I decided to ride the Moondragon wave for the next three months, and incorporated that into my password.

While writing this, my friend from Japan actually emailed me. He said he’s been thinking of me more than I probably realize, and that he doesn’t know what to say so as to not upset me or make me uncomfortable. But they’re only words now, I suppose. I can’t keep going just on words.

At this point, I need to be distracted from J. Mere words won’t be enough.