Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Then and Now 46 - Friends All Around

Then and Now 46 - Friends All Around
Time: Mid-2007, single and at my apartment.

This was one busy day. It took place a few weeks after my tutoring classes got started up and had fully kicked off, and I had gotten to know Tim, Jessie and Amy very well.

First, Tim and Jessie asked me to come to their apartment to hang out for a while. It wasn't a class or anything like that, it was just two friends inviting me over to spend some time relaxing and having fun. When I got off the subway car, I came to a residential area of town, with rows of five or six story apartment buildings lining long roads with very few cars on them. Not only did Tim and Jessie's neighborhood feel open, spacious and opulent, but it was quiet, too.

They asked me to call them when I got near their place so they could come pick me up, so I found an interesting little landmark where they could find me easily: it was a small park in the shape of a triangle, with only a slide, a few swings and some monkey bars in it. It was small and oddly-shaped because it was in the middle of three lanes of traffic, which met up and went in three different directions at each point of the triangle. There was also a fence running all the way around it to keep the kids from dashing out. I was there and sitting on a bench for only two minutes when Jessie pulled up in her car, and I got inside to go to her and Tim's place.

It was a nice apartment. There was an L-shaped couch with some comfortable cushions in the front room, and a very large TV directly in front of it. On their counter were some bowls of fruit, and their coffee table had a couple of magazines to read. Their place had just the right amount of furniture and clutter to make it feel like home, but wasn't stifling enough to feel like I was getting lost amidst chairs, clothes and other unneeded knickknacks. Their infant daughter was sitting in the corner of the L couch, and I started to make faces and play with her. All she could do was follow me around with her eyes, open her mouth and wiggle her tongue around in response.

Tim excitedly asked if I wanted to play his Wii, which I had never played before, and I happily agreed. Jessie rolled her eyes in a teasing way, probably because man time was coming. I made my little avatar with spiked hair, evil eyes and a half-smirk. I was trying to make myself look confident, but I ended up looking more like a jerk. Even Tim laughed, "You look like such a bad guy!"

We played a couple of games. First up was a bowling game, where he proudly showed me his 300 score that he got sometime in the previous year, but as in real life, I wasn't able to bowl over 80 myself. Then we played tennis, which was kind of interesting, but I don't remember who won.

Finally, we played boxing. I was really railing on Tim for a good couple of minutes, getting in some solid hits, but I think he was playing possum, because as I was just a hit or two from winning, his guy suddenly jumped out and started raining blows on me. I tried to dodge and block his hits, but the controller wasn't really listening to what I was telling it to do, so my guy dropped his gloves down from his face right as Tim laid a haymaker directly across my left cheek. I was down and out in seconds. He cheered and I groaned at the same time.

We soon quit the game to talk about other things. I found out that day that Jessie is a published author here, and had written several children's books over the years. I was really impressed. After a while, though, it was time to go, so Tim and Jessie saw me outside. Before I went, they gave me their old bicycle, which they never rode anymore. I thanked them a bunch as I went out, and rode the bicycle back to the subway station.

Unfortunately, I couldn't take the bike onto the train, so I had to go back upstairs and leave it, unlocked, in front of a business. There were a bunch of other bikes there, and I really didn't need the bike all that much so I wasn't worried if it got taken away or stolen, but I still felt nervous leaving it there. I went back downstairs and took the subway back to my apartment for another scheduled meet-up with my other student Amy, and again, it was just her and me going out, not a tutoring session.

She picked me up in her car, and she drove us down a long, peaceful dark road from my town to the main city, and brought me to a seafood restaurant where she knew the boss. She excused herself to go talk with him, and I walked around, enjoying the fish trophies and other things hanging off of the walls. Amy came back a minute or two later and apologized for leaving me by myself. I told her not to sweat it, then complimented the boss on his place.

We got back in her car, and she asked if I wanted to see a movie with her. I said sure, we could go see the Simpsons movie, and we were off to find a theater that was playing it. Unfortunately, it either wasn't playing or was sold out, so we just spent a while driving around aimlessly for about an hour. We still talked about our childhoods, our time abroad in other countries and general English topics the whole time, though, so it was still a very fun trip.

Finally, as night had long set in and she had to head home, I asked if she could help me pick up Tim and Jessie's bike and take it back to my place. She happily agreed to help out, and we went to the business where I had left it. Thankfully it was still there, so we loaded it up, and headed back to my place. When we arrived, we both got out of the car, and she handed me my usual rate for a tutoring session.

I refused it immediately. I told her she was a friend now, not a student, and I didn't take money from friends. Besides, I was doing fine with my new job and apartment, so I didn't need to charge my friends money for my English lessons anyway. I was enjoying their company enough as it was. She smiled and put her money away, then we spent a couple of minutes outside her car chatting about a new modeling job that she was going to take. She had to leave the country and do some shoots over there, but she kept the same phone number and asked me to call her when we could hang out again.

And with that, Amy was gone, and like my other tutor-student-turned-friend George, I never saw her again. I texted her one time while she was abroad, and she wrote a message telling me how happy she was, but that was it. In any event, I'm still very happy to have gotten to know her.

As for the bike, I rode it to my job once or twice, but after it got a flat tire on the second or third ride, I just left it unlocked at the base of the stairs up to my apartment. I never really liked bikes, and not just because of the constantly popping tires, but because they were a pain to store, and never seemed to go much faster than speedwalking. It was still an awesome present, though. It remained at the bottom of the steps until my girlfriend got pregnant, then I moved out to be with her. I hope someone found it and is making use of it now.

As for today...

I woke up at 8:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the game.
I took my son out to get breakfast, but the first shop closed at 10:00, and the other one ran out of bread, so it took a bit longer than usual to find a place. We talked, cruised a bit, ate, then went home.
I watched TV.
I roughhoused with my son.
I watched internet movies with him.
I went to work by train, and played video games on the way.
I taught students.
I came home by train, and played video games on the way.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I did the dishes.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I slept.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Then and Now 45 - George

Then and Now 45 - George
Time: Mid-2007, single and at the hostel.

George, one of my tutor students from my hostel days, was a young man who went to a local college in the big city. We got in touch on the internet, and he actually paid me $30 for an hour and a half of my services, which was far more than I was expecting. When we first met up at the subway station, I had a very good feeling about him. He had a bright smile, was dressed casually but cleanly, and gave me a nervous, but friendly, handshake. I wasted no time getting to know him and his work at college, where he was studying English for some work he wanted to do later.

At his campus, he took me on a quick tour around the place. There were little forest patches on the sides of a road that went around the campus, and the path made a ring all the way around the main dorm rooms and classrooms in the center. I asked George if he knew any other foreigners from this college. He said he didn't know any personally, but he had seen one or two hanging out around the place. Apparently, one was just looking around for a girlfriend, while the other actually studied engineering there.

We walked around for a bit longer, until we came across his dorm area. The door was locked and he wasn't interested in showing me inside, because he hadn't cleaned the place up. I said it was fine, so we went to the computer lab to have class. For our first tutoring session, I taught him English sentence order and simple words he didn't know, and asked him to speak for a few minutes on random topics that came to his or my mind. I asked him if he wanted me to be ruthless with correcting him so he would improve quicker, or only correct the important things so he wouldn't get discouraged. He laughed, and said I should choose whatever I thought was best, so I compromised and wrote down his mistakes on a piece of paper to politely bring them up later.

After a while, it was time for a break, so we got on one of the computers, and I showed him the "Atari Porno" episode of the Angry Video Game Nerd. He thought it was pretty funny, and I made sure to translate some of the better swear words and slang English for him to remember later. In no time, our ninety minutes were up, and I was on my way.

We met up a few more times for class after that, and I even saw a couple of his friends at the subway station once. The guys seemed pretty friendly, but the two girls kept staring at the floor and looking away shyly. Each time I met George, I would switch up the tutoring class to involve practicing listening, writing, phrases, slang, or whatever he seemed interested in. They were great classes that went by quickly with how much fun we were having.

After I moved to my apartment and started getting a regular paycheck, I called him and said that we could meet up for free from that moment on, and we could practice English while exploring the town. He seemed happy, but hesitant, when we hung up. That was the last time I talked to him, probably because he wanted the professional class to help with his English, instead of just messing around about town and practicing casual speaking.

And, as with many of my other good friends from my unmarried life abroad, by the time I realized George had fallen out of contact with me, I had already made twenty or thirty other friends and had completely forgotten about him. Then my email account went down, so I never got to hang with him again. He was a great student and friend, though, for the brief time we knew one another.

As for today...

I woke up at 10:30.
I went out to tutor a student.
I came home.
I spent an hour or two fixing the computer.
I played cars with my son.
I played Mario Paint with him. He wasn't impressed by my animations of a face snorting up a man, or a train riding a bus and running over another guy. But he couldn't stop talking about the last animation I did of Yoshi eating his own turds.
I watched DVDs with him and my wife.
I ate dinner.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I did the dishes.
My wife and son watched internet movies, so I played video games.
I slept.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tilting scales

My wife said we could have sex tonight. It would have been the first time in almost four months.

I wasn't interested at all. She's heavily overweight, she acts like my mother, and to be honest, I can think of it as nothing more than a carrot that she uses to boss me around. Now, aside from cooking once every other day (which I don't really care about), she does absolutely nothing for me in this marriage.

She's already promised sex several times before, only to not follow through, and little by little, I've weaned myself off of it, and her. She's really dug her own grave on this one, because her constant refusals have made me completely uninterested in her, so she's basically given up the second biggest source of power over me; all she has left is our son. I can't even remember a single time in the last year or two where we had sex and she didn't give out some kind of order, like "Can you hurry up?" This is from the woman who used to wake me up in the middle of the night for it.

I didn't even look at her while I watched TV, and the conversation went like this:

"We can do it tonight."
"I don't have any condoms."

Then she went to bed without another word. Obviously, if she were really interested, she would have proclaimed, "Wait right here!" then bounded downstairs to get them herself. But she didn't. And I don't want to have sex with people that aren't willing. Rapists love that; I don't.

Fourteen more years, and this won't be an issue anymore. Fourteen more years, and I will have a sex life again, with or without her. Fourteen more years, and I will never make the weak, ignorant, moronic decision to marry, ever again.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I had lunch with my son and wife, and her mother, aunt and uncle. The latter four spent almost the entire time talking about my sister-in-law, who has stopped taking her medication as she continues to cut herself. My aunt, who I've only met three times before, then took the opportunity today to start talking to me like a child in warning me not to eat too much. Twice. And she barked the same thing about my son.

Is there some rule in my marriage where a husband is supposed to be infantilized and treated like this? Every single woman in my married life does this to me, as if nobody's aware that it's my paycheck that keeps the five people in this family afloat.

Before I got married, my wife asked for my opinions and ideas for things going on with her life, our fun and the like. But once the ring came on, suddenly I'm assumed to be some helpless little boy who can't do anything on his own, despite doing more than every other person in this family combined.