Friday, October 26, 2012

Then and Now 48 - Road of Rock

Then and Now 48 - Road of Rock
Time: Mid-2007, at my bud's aunt's place.

When I first came here, I didn't have much besides my PSP and some clothes. I'm usually one to travel light, and I assumed that I could buy some stuff as time went on. Also, I wanted to wean myself off of video games at some point, so I only brought the PSP for the plane ride, and two Guitar Hero guitars so I could play with my bud, and maybe throw a party later. I didn't bring a PS2 because the one I used to use belonged to my family, and it was pretty broken anyway, so I planned to buy one here.

The PSP ended up getting used way too much as I went through my adjustment phase, but as I came out of it and set it aside, I still wanted to get a PS2, because my bud and I both loved Guitar Hero. It was the only game he ever came over to my house in America to play. So that day, the two of us headed out to find a video game store. His aunt told us that there was a shop about a twenty minute walk away, but because neither of us had walked the streets she was talking before, we got lost.

We headed under an overhang for a construction site and past some really big and busy streets on our way to the shop. There was a veritable maze of houses and businesses to our right and past the construction site, and to the left, we could see the bright waters of a river. After a few minutes, we stopped at a little shopping mall to ask directions.

Inside, there were maybe twenty or thirty stores. The mall was completely indoors, and every one of the stores was a cube between little walking paths that wound around them, or off to the side. All of the stores also had clear walls and dividers, so no matter where I was standing, I could look through one store and straight into another.

My bud went wandering on his own for a little bit, so I took the chance to peek in on some clothes stores. I also saw a card and miniature shop with a bunch of robot statues in the display, and even some pillows with pictures of girls on the pillowcases. After a bit, my bud and I met up again, and we found a metalworking shop. The boss didn't seem to weld or anything like that (or at least, I didn't see any welding equipment), but he did do engravings and other things.

He and my bud spoke in the local language for a while about where to find the game shop, and after getting directions, I used a very rough mix of poor local language and English to thank him and ask him about his store. He responded with his own language mix, but his English was a lot better. To thank him for his help, I paid for some dog tags with my name on them, and picked them up a week later. I still have the tags, the gift bag and the boss' namecard in my memories box.

So on my bud and I went to the game shop, which wasn't that far away. It was a lot smaller than I'm used to, and the boss was an older woman, so I was a bit surprised when I first came in. She was very professional, and allowed me to try out my copy of Guitar Hero and the guitar on her display model to see if it worked, and they did perfectly. In no time, I bought the system, and my bud and I were ready to rock.

On the way out, a pair of foreigners came in, a guy and a girl. I tried to say hello, but they both ignored me and went straight to the boss. I guess it was because they were both very overweight and feeling self-conscious or something. They asked the boss in English if she had a copy of Silent Hill 4. She didn't understand, so they had to pull out a picture and show her, but she didn't have it. Then, they left without a word. It was just another example of rude foreigners treating other expatriates like toxic waste, and not having the respect to learn the local language.

My bud and I were back at his aunt's house in no time, and we were rocking out that night. The volume had to be kind of low because we slept on the second floor between his aunt's business and bedroom, but it was still another great night in my single life.

As for today...

I woke up at 9:00.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I prepared teaching lessons.
I roughhoused with my son.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I ate dinner.
I started a load of laundry.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I surfed the net.
I hung up wet laundry.
I slept.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Turning point

My wife woke up and talked with me about changing her religion, from her local beliefs to Christianity. She told me that her reasons for doing so were because her mother and sister act badly and she didn't want to follow the same religion they did, and that she prayed all the time but never got anything from her current faith. I repeated the same thing I told her a few days ago in annoyance: she shouldn't switch religions just because someone she didn't like was also a member, and she should follow a religion because she agrees with their beliefs, not because she wants something.

She got miffy and pretended that I didn't tell her this a few days ago, then suddenly told me that she wanted to follow the religion to be closer to her recently passed grandmother. This is exactly her same method of drama that I outlined before, and as soon as she mentioned her grandmother, I knew what she was up to. I looked away from her and back to my video game, then said that it sounded like a good plan. I then scolded myself for trying to get involved with my wife's issues again, knowing that every result ends up with her ignoring my advice or getting angry.

She still sounded miffy, but the more I ignored her and responded only with short answers, the happier she seemed to become. Truth be told, I'd heard about this phenomenon only recently, and the results are exactly as people say they are (and the exact opposite of what I expected): the colder a man acts to a woman, the more eager she is to please.

It's completely true. Before, every time my wife started a pointless fight with me then I apologized for my rudeness later (and never got anything similar in return), her behavior would only get worse as the fight dragged on, or in the days and weeks after. But now that I treat her little tantrums with indifference, she suddenly seems more than willing to get things back to the way they were. All I have to do is flick my attention somewhere else and give noncomittal hums, and the drama comes to a screeching halt. I updated my coping post with this nugget, in hopes that it helps other unhappily married men.

I don't like acting like this. And I wouldn't have to act like this if I weren't married. But from this point on, I will never have another p-whipped fight with my wife, fights that I've detailed over the past year and a half on this blog.

In marriage, as with any other volatile relationship, weakness invites aggression. Concessions invite more demands. Apologies invite blame.

Ever since I started ignoring my wife when she's miffy, and speaking directly the many reasons that she's wrong when she's actively attacking me, she backs down every time. Her fits of drama have started happening less and less, in addition to being shut down in seconds. She made a big mistake cutting me off sexually, not doing anything around the house, starting fights nearly every week and wasting hundreds of dollars of my money every month: by treating me like garbage for years while still relying on the benefits I provide her, she's allowed me to check out of this marriage in every way but physically.

My wife has no idea of how I truly feel, but I am so internally removed from this relationship, and my life, that I no longer take any of my wife's crap with the kowtowed posture, voice and words that I used to. I'm not pushing her to divorce me, as happy as that would make me, because we have a son. I'm showing her that I won't tolerate any of her bull anymore. If she divorces me because I've decided to stop taking her abuse, I can't blame myself for it. My son deserves more in life than a father who is a doormat and ATM machine to his mother, and I need to show him that not only will marriage destroy him, but that his life and happiness are in his own hands.

I do everything, all of this, for my son, and I will ever remain his dedicated father. Whether or not my wife decides to get with the program and change my life from crap to lame, I no longer care. I'll continue to provide for her as I promised when we got married, and I'll show her respect and kindness when she's a good person, but I'm not taking her abuse anymore. And in fourteen years, I will be free of this yoke. Forever.

As a contrast to all of this, I came home from work by train, and talked with one of my co-workers about my life on the way. She is incredibly beautiful and really nice, and it was good to get some things about my married life off my chest by back-handedly bashing it through comparison to my single life. I never said a word about marriage directly, but I think she got the point as I entertained her with some stories cribbed directly from my Then and Now posts. If I weren't married, I would definitely pursue something more with her.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Like many other people who wanted to get married, I made excuses for all of the pains of it because society told me to expect the good things: my wife won't be a jerk because our love will be special. My life won't be boring because we'll travel the world. I will have more sex than ever because that's what the statistics show. All lies, but I believed them anyway with rationalizations and excuses.

I'm going to discuss the different combinations of married couples in this essay, but to do that, I'm going to need to divide people into four groups. These groups will be based on two criteria: a person's actions (if they are proactive or reactionary), and a person's morality and character (if they are good/confident, or selfish/hate-filled).

For actions, an externally proactive person is not just someone who has actively improved their lives and/or the lives of others, but is also a person who tries to get to that point, like someone who goes to school in order to someday have that strength. A reactive person is someone who coasts through life, responding only to stimuli.

For character, an internally moral person is not just a person who thinks well of themselves and others, but also people who are negative, but keep those destructive feelings locked up. In other words, those who act positively while thinking negatively are moral, because they consider the well-being of others through their actions. A selfish person puts themselves first at the expense of others, and/or dumps their problems on other people for the purpose of scoring attention or causing trouble.

Putting the internal and external together, we arrive at four kinds of people:

- A Leader is a proactive and good person. They are the managers, creators, charity managers and doers of this world. They are trustworthy, hard-working, confident, friendly and helpful people.

- A Support is a reactive and good person. They are people who wish the best for others, but laziness or cowardice precludes them from doing things on their own to improve their lives or the lives of others. They are the world's best friends and silent partners.

- A Bully is a proactive and selfish person. They take action that hurts others to benefit themselves, and rarely limit their behavior. At best, these people are rude, vindictive or controlling, and at worst, thieves, rapists or murderers.

- An Anchor is a reactive and selfish person. They exist only to wallow in the mess that their lives have become, and refuse to do anything to help themselves improve their situation. They are the wet blankets and takers of the world. At best, these people are online game addicts or welfare leeches, and at worst, drug addicts or suicidal.

Before I continue, I want to make a few things clear:

First, this isn't a black and white view of the world; people are not this easy to group and pin down, so whichever group fits most often will suffice. That is to say, if someone is usually a happy and outgoing person, but a couple of times a year they blow their top over something stupid (then apologize later), they're a Leader.

Second, these personality types are based on a person's actions, not on their thoughts. The former is the true definition of a human being.

Third, these types of people are defined by their actions when specific situations that test them arise. Put simply, if a person is kind to their lover almost every day, but if the two of them ever disagree on something, this person becomes a power-tripping, threatening jerk until they get their way, then they are a Bully. The other situations, where things were unfolding as both partners wished, did not test this person on their domineering, selfish nature, and so it would be incorrect to call them a Leader.

Finally, some might wonder why I keep harping on strength in this blog, whether it be confidence, chasing dreams or the like. Obviously, this is a personal thing, because it is the most important thing that I lost as a married man. I can answer that with a question: why aren't you more focused on strength? It is through strength that we achieve our dreams in life, and without it, we have no ability to improve ourselves. If you find yourself using canards like "power corrupts," then you're just rationalizing and excusing your static, complacent existence, your laziness and your fear in favor of that comfortable malaise.

With the explanations done, on to the meat of this essay. These are the combinations of marriage:

Marriage - Anchor/Anchor
Theme - Ruin
Analogy - Two people living in a broken down trailer in an axe-murderer trailer park.

This marriage is defined by a tenuous bond between two very sick people, and a life that's equal parts unchanging and destructive. I don't think I need to explain why this kind of marriage is not ideal, but it doesn't hurt to try.

Neither person in this relationship will ever be happy. They both lack the character to be good people or to control their chaotic thoughts that become chaotic action, and neither one has the strength to proactively change any potential problems with their marriage. Anchor/Anchor marriages are destined for pain, and no Anchor should be seeking out a relationship in the first place, much less with another sick person, much less a contractually obligated one that lasts an entire lifetime. How can they take care of another human being when they cannot even care for themselves?

Truthfully, I've never experienced, or seen, this relationship firsthand, but it's to be expected: Anchors, by nature, tend towards being shut-ins. To see an Anchor outside is hard enough, but to intimately know two married to one another is even tougher.

Marriage - Bully/Anchor
Theme - Abuse
Analogy - Two people in a car, one steering from the driver's side rear seat, and the other cowering in the rear seat next to them.

One partner is an active, but lousy, human being, who drives the relationship to debt-ridden, destructive, selfish ends, while the other doesn't dare say anything for fear of being shouted at or struck.

This marriage is an obvious one to avoid. In the Anchor's position, they will be demeaned, abused, stolen from and pushed around, and their life will get even worse over time. The Bully will get what they want through threats, but will eventually self destruct.

I experienced this with my mother's screaming at my whipped fathers, and everyone else around her, during my teenage years. To imagine being married to a woman like that, especially in a vulnerable position like I was in during my depressed days, makes me feel bad for a few of my fathers, and further makes me want to vomit.

Marriage - Support/Anchor
Theme - Impotence
Analogy - Two people in a parked car, one in the passenger seat, and the other stewing directly behind them in the passenger side rear seat.

This marriage involves two powerless people, much like the Anchor/Anchor relationship above, but in this case, one of the two partners actually knows how to fix their lives, and their relationship. It's just that neither one of the two spouses has the courage or confidence to do anything productive.

Imagine the Anchor/Anchor relationship, only the Support gives the Anchor advice that neither partner ever follows through on, and you have a good idea of why this marriage is to be avoided. This relationship is a godawful cycle of boredom and drama, where the Support dreads every moment that the Anchor pops, and the Anchor, selfish twit that they are, continues to manufacture problems and cause trouble where none existed before, in an attempt to punish their partner, and themselves, in their psychopathy.

I had this kind of marriage with my wife when she was in a horrendous mood with easily solvable problems, but she never listened to the easy solutions I had to offer her. She kept making excuses for why she didn't need to fix herself, and I got more and more frustrated that she kept causing drama where none should exist in the first place. After three or four years of this, I just stopped caring when she tried to stir things up. It's a terrible situation for either party to be in.

Marriage - Leader/Anchor
Theme - Parasitism
Analogy - Two people in a car, one driving in the driver's seat, and the other moping in the passenger side rear seat.

The Leader is the breadwinner, the upbeat one, the planner, the thinker and the doer. It is through their supreme effort that the marriage putters along, no thanks to the dead weight Anchor strapped around their waist. The Leader gives, and the Anchor takes.

This is the Support/Anchor marriage, only in this case, the Leader is not only sure of how to fix their mate's problems, but is willing to work hard to uplift them. This, of course, does not move the Anchor in the slightest. Being selfish, hopeless and unwilling to make any effort to improve, the Anchor employs a simple methodology when the Leader attempts to help: excuses and escape when the Leader is forceful, rage and lies when the Leader is nice.

I have this kind of marriage every time my wife gets in one of her whiny moods about something trivial, and I have to take on the role of the stern father figure, giving her piece after piece of advice that she consistently explains away or ignores. She never accepts any of the good help I offer, I feel unappreciated for all I give and all that she takes, and my efforts never stop her from attempting to drag me down with her. It's like shouting to someone in a dark room, who keeps tripping all over furniture and hurting themselves, to reach up exactly four feet and flip on the light, but they keep screaming at you that it would never work. It's a ridiculous, stupid relationship to be in, to have someone hold you back in life so completely.

Marriage - Bully/Bully
Theme - Drama
Analogy - Two people in a car, both sitting in the back seat, fighting over the steering wheel.

If you think living with one controlling, abusive, selfish know-it-all is bad, imagine a marriage where both are domineering idiots.

There isn't a moment's peace in this household. Neither of the two Bullies will ever be on the same page, and because neither one of them has the character necessary to care about the other's well-being (and due to the permanent nature of marriage, where compromise and sacrifice are the name of the godawful game), there will be nothing but shouting and strife between the two as they jockey for a better position over the other in the marriage.

My mom has always been a Bully, and I had ringside seats to the Bully/Bully marriage between her and fathers 1 and 4. After the inevitable screaming fits between them, both of them would invariably turn their frustrations on their kids, because although fighting other Bullies in an attempt to erode their will excites them, Bullies love nothing more than attacking people who don't or can't fight back.

Marriage - Support/Bully
Theme - Chaos
Analogy - Two people in a car, one sitting in the passenger seat, and the other driving from the driver's side rear seat.

This marriage involves a well meaning, but powerless, spouse, who tries in vain to rein in the destructive or selfish tendencies of their chaotic partner.

The Support is little more than an ignored drudge, who spends their time making sure the marriage is kept in order, while the Bully makes attempts to unravel it through their ignorance, selfishness or overall desire to see things crash down around them. The Support, being the weakling that they are, can only make half-hearted attempts to get the Bully back in line, but the Bully's lack of character, or overall pigheadedness, keeps them from settling down.

I lived this marriage for years. I was the Support, internally moral from years of constant personal development, and externally reactive after becoming disempowered by marriage. My wife is a Bully, the kind of Bully that only snaps when her will is questioned, but otherwise is a hybrid of Support and Anchor that does little more than use the computer or nap. Take a look throughout this blog under the "Problems" tab to get more than enough information to dissuade you from ever living this merry-go-round of cyclical nonsense.

Marriage - Leader/Bully
Theme - Harassment
Analogy - Two people in a car, one driving in the driver's seat, and the other fighting for control from the driver's side rear seat.

In this marriage, we have two people who have the confidence and strength to affect change in themselves and others, but only one has the character to wield that strength wisely.

While the Leader will continue to pull and direct the marriage in a healthy, fun way, the Bully will attempt to steer them off course with their destructive behavior. Unlike the Leader/Anchor relationship, the Bully will not flee from good advice, or shut themselves down from hearing how wrong they are. Instead, they'll push even harder to ride the marriage off the rails and into debt, drama and pain.

I had this marriage with my wife for a few years, from just after the Christmas fight in 2009 to the first part of the airport fight in the beginning of 2011, as detailed in my Fights post. Before the Christmas fight, my wife had never popped about stupid things, and so wasn't a Bully. After the first part of the airport fight, her constant stupidity eroded my will to fight back, and I just gave up and became a Support. As a Leader, this relationship is a draining cycle of constantly fighting a fool for control. As a Bully, it's a selfish attempt to avail themselves of their partner's willingness to pick up the pieces after they inevitably send the marriage into ruin.

Marriage - Support/Support
Theme - Monotony
Analogy - Two people living in a trailer park.

So this is the first of the marriage types that people might consider a success. Here we have two Supports, both well-meaning and both impotent, living together in a daily routine. Why do people sign up for this stale monotony of a relationship? Generally, it's because people become one or more of the following, and refuse to fix or mitigate the problem:

- Bald
- Fat
- Old
- Ugly
- Boring

And they don't fix the problem(s), because they are one or more of the following:

- Lazy
- Cowardly
- Weak

Rather than do something like shave and put on muscle (or wear a hat), diet, do young things or cultivate a personality that shines past the rough exterior, it's so much easier for a Support to just give up and find a fellow failure to cling to, then wait for the arrival of death. Support/Support marriages are about giving up every chance and all potential in a vast and amazing world because the Supports are both losers, too far gone to improve themselves. Think I'm being harsh? Read "Marriage is for Losers" by Dr. Kelly Flanagan, a lauded call to enjoy a marriage like this, and read between the lines.

It's. Also. So. Incredibly. BORING. When my wife isn't flipping out about something, this is the basic relationship we have: wake up, family time, go to work, go home, do chores, go to sleep, repeat. It's not even close to what my life was like when I was single.

Marriage - Leader/Support
Theme - Instability
Analogy - Two people in a car, one driving in the driver's seat, and the other navigating from the passenger seat.

This is the second of three marriages that people might consider a success. It sure sounds appealing, too: one partner is active and directs the marriage for the betterment of both partners, the other partner guides, and the two support one another while the Leader leads them on to fun and fulfillment.

Unfortunately, marriage doesn't work out this way. As I said in my Leverage post, marriage involves the transfer of leverage from a man to a woman because of two reasons: the legal system in many countries, and the cultural expectations of men and women in nearly all of them. Because of this, it's important to show the Leader/Support marriage with either gender in either position.

When the Leader is a woman, and the Support is a man, it's only a matter of time until the marriage falls to pieces. When it comes to a relationship, women primarily desire strength from their husbands. This could mean handsomeness, money, confidence, muscles, tough talking, status, fame, or any other way that a man shows himself to be a force to be reckoned with. I don't even disagree with this. I'm oftentimes married to an Anchor, and I know why women want to avoid relationships with whiners, dead weights, and manipulative Nice Guys. Anchors throw a wet blanket over everything and make simple tasks Herculean.

The problem is that when a Leader woman, for some reason, marries a Support man, her eye will begin to wander for someone who can proactively protect, enrich or otherwise work with her better than her Support husband; he will become an Anchor in her eyes. It's in her genetics. Because there is seldom any kind of punishment or shaming for a woman to divorce for any reason, and she is usually rewarded for doing so, she is likely to end up making that decision.

When the Leader is a man, and the Support is a woman, as my relationship with my wife was before she got pregnant, it feels great. I was in charge of our fun and activities, and all she had to do was show up and have a good time. When she had a different idea that was better than mine, I happily followed her line of thinking.

But when the ring came on, and I moved in with my wife, she degraded from Support to Bully in just a year, because she knew she had me trapped. I tried to combat her stupidity, I tried to uplift her back into the Support that I once knew, everything. But she had no incentive to improve, so she got fat and became an even worse Bully, and I finally gave up.

In short, Female Leader/Male Support marriages are on a crash course for divorce court, while Male Leader/Female Support marriages have a shelf life that lasts as long as it takes for the wife to realize the amount of power she has acquired. Why would you want to sign up for either one, especially if you're a man, with this kind of risk in mind?

Marriage - Leader/Leader
Theme - Complication
Analogy - Two people on two motorcycles, driving down the road in the same direction.

If I were born again into another life, and when I was an adult, if somebody put a gun to my head and said that I had to get married or they would pull the trigger, I would tell them to blow my brains out. I'm not joking.

But if I absolutely had to choose a kind of marriage, this would be it. When two Leaders come together, everything works. You have two people, proactive and full of character, who don't need to support one another because they're both strong enough to look out for themselves. It's a great life, shared.

At first.

This marriage degrades or falls apart when one or the other spouse changes. Perhaps both partners agreed that they wouldn't have children, but then someone changed their mind. Perhaps both partners wanted to have a huge ranch out in the middle of nowhere and live there for the rest of their lives, but then wanderlust overtook one of them.

Whatever the case, when one of the Leaders is still moving in the same direction, but the other wants to go somewhere else, then it's either time for the marriage to end, or for one of the Leaders to give up and become a Support. And I can say from personal experience, for a Leader like I was who had worked so hard to get to that point, and to chuck every dream and hope into the gutter for the rest of his life, made me feel infantilized, then cheated.

This has all been made especially grating, of course, from all of the additional and unnecessary problems that I have had to take on as a result of marriage. In other words, not only was I degraded from Leader to Support, but I then had to take care of five times the debt, chores and fights as my single life, and be rewarded with less than 10% of the sex and take-home pay.

I only ever had a Leader/Leader relationship with my first girlfriend, and it was great. We met up when we wanted, went out for movies and dancing, stayed in for TV and sex, and were always on the same page. Then we moved in together and the relationship turned into a boring Support/Support situation, then eventually into an empty Bully/Support relationship with me in the occasional Bully position, for which I still feel ashamed.

In order, this was how my relationship with my wife went, between me/her:

- Late 2007 to September 2008 - Leader/Support. My girlfriend, who later became my pregnant wife, acted nice to me because she knew how great a guy I was. She kept up this act for another year, because she thought I was going to take off before she gave birth, and she wanted to secure my presence with her.

- September 2008 to December 2009 - Support/Support. After we officially moved in together, our married life followed an extremely predictable, and boring, routine.

- December 2009 to February 2011 - Leader/Bully. My wife, realizing I wasn't going anywhere, let loose all of the selfish, domineering, rage-filled horsecrap that she had held in check, and I ineffectively attempted to defend myself by using logic against her drama-stirring foolishness. When I did, I got about the same amount of respect and understanding as if I were using the same logic on our seldom angry infant son.

- February 2011 to October 2012 - Support/Bully. Since fighting my wife's mercurial nature wasn't working, I attempted to concede in every fight, in the hopes that appeasement would make her stop barking at me, and help her understand how much I did for her as her husband. Unsurprisingly, it didn't work, and only made things worse.

- October 2012 to today - Leader/Support. After my wife had the abortion, I had been pushed far and long enough. Her stupid drama gets only two responses from me: calm and logical, but direct, reprimands for her childish behavior, then absolute apathy and withdrawal. Depending on the fight, I sometimes use both, or sometimes skip straight to the latter, but both responses work extremely well. I've taken back control of this relationship and turned it from a volatile powder keg, back into a boring routine where I call the shots, and quietly remember my old life.

If you think this is hardly a way to live, you're right. If your relationship with your significant other is going great, why complicate it by getting married? Marriage upsets the power dynamic, limits freedom, and guarantees nothing, especially for a man. Even if you're marriage number ten (both Leaders), you shouldn't even need that contractual obligation to keep the two of you together. One of the big reasons of marriage is to "prove" some kind of trust exists between two people, but there lies the contradiction:

- If you don't trust your partner, then you shouldn't be getting married.
- If you DO trust your partner, then you don't need to.

So these are the kinds of marriages:

- Chaos.
- One spouse taking care of dead weight and the other spouse putting an undue amount of pressure on the first.
- Mind numbing, endless monotony.
- Getting involved in a permanent relationship with another human being, who by nature is prone to change.

Don't do it. If you want kids, have a surrogate parent help, or adopt. Kids are extremely easy and fun to raise if you are a strong person, and worth every minute. But don't get married. And if you decide to ignore these warnings, do yourself a favor and don't have kids with your spouse; give yourself the option to leave when the marriage inevitably becomes abusive, boring or unfulfilling, and you realize that I was right.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Then and Now 47 - Odds and Ends 6

Then and Now 47 - Odds and Ends 6
Time: Before I got married.

Nate, Annie and I got to know each other pretty well over the course of my stay at my apartment. We were all about the same age and had a lot of the same interests regarding media and travel, so we always had good times together, either in my place or theirs. One day, the two of them invited me to go out with some of Nate's cousins to visit an outdoor market, so we all took the subway to go adventure a bit.

There were three or four cousins there that night: one of them was in grade school, so I wasn't much more to her than a novelty foreigner to practice English with. The others were about my age, but they were extremely shy, and no matter how much I tried to talk to them, they shyly responded for only a few seconds before going back to Nate in the local language.

That night, we all went into a combination restaurant, shop and arcade, where the top floor sold clothes, but an escalator went underground to the eating and play areas. We all sat down to get something to eat, and talked for a bit. Going back up top, we walked past some food carts until we came to a sausage vendor. They sold these incredibly thick, foot long sausages wrapped in paper, and Nate said I had to eat one. I bought it and we took a picture of me staring at it in mock shock, then we walked back towards the subway to say goodbye.

I nibbled on the dog for about an hour before and after I rode on the train, then met up with Nell near my apartment. By the time we got together and headed out into the night to pick up some stuff for my apartment, the dog was still half-uneaten. Finally, after she and I finished shopping and we set up a time to have a real meet-up, I could take no more and ditched the super dog in a trash can. I did give it my best, though.


My first "date" in this country was with a girl who messaged me on the internet, and I met up with her just a day or two after I first got to the hostel. We met up at a bus stop near my new place, then we took a walk through her college campus on our way to have some coffee.

The campus was extremely small, barely bigger than one or two city blocks. I imagined it was either just the dormitory area, or I had missed the rest of it on our night walk. We walked through a wide courtyard with some basketball courts to the side, and all around us rose a ring of buildings with scattered windows lit up and students studying inside. We went to a coffee shop not far away from the Mexican restaurant where Sammi and I had our date in Then and Now 28. It was a very nice place, with glass windows showing the night streets just outside, wide open aisles and very comfortable seats. It almost felt like a 50s diner.

One of the first things this girl said to me was that she absolutely wasn't interested in dating at the moment. I told her that was fine; to tell the truth, I wasn't really interested in her, either. But once she had stated that, it became much easier for me to relax and treat her as any of my guy friends, joking about some of the things I had seen at my bud's aunt's place and complimenting her country, and she told me of some things I could go an see while I was in the main city.

After about an hour, I walked her back to her campus, then went home to talk with May and Ken.


Walking through the rainy streets of my first city at my bud's aunt's place, my bud and I kept under the overhangs of the businesses next to us as best we could. The rain was so heavy, that just a few seconds outside in it, and we would have been drenched for hours. We came to a group of young kids kicking a ball around, and right when we started to get close, one of them kicked it straight to me. I stopped it with my foot and looked at them, and they seemed to be shocked, like they had never seen a foreigner before.

I kicked the ball up into my hands, then tossed it to the boy in front with a "Here you go," one of the first things I learned from my studies of the local language. The kids all got excited and ran towards me, surrounding me and peppering me with questions that I could not yet understand. I laughed, smiled, waved goodbye and kept going with my bud. "Don't get a big head," he scolded me, and I laughed again.


My boss at my first job told me one day that we were going to have a party. I asked her why, and she said it was because we had just welcomed our 100th student into the school. I'll get to the story of me getting this job later, but for now, it's just important to mention that I was the first teacher to teach at this school, which was a newly built place. My boss said that they couldn't have done it without my help, and though I humbly accepted the praise, I knew she was right. I was an excellent teacher because of my five years of experience in America, and that plus the fact that most other foreigners who come here:

A) Don't care about their jobs as teachers
B) Don't know how to teach, and refuse to improve
C) Both

...made me the teacher that I was, especially in comparison to others. That, and more importantly, the extensive experience and efforts of the staff there, made the school the success that it was. So as thanks, my boss took everyone to the hotel that I saw in Then and Now 38, which, fittingly enough, I first saw as I was leaving an interview for another school.

It was a mammoth place up close, colored red and gold and standing dozens of stories tall on a mountain peak overlooking several valleys around it. The lobby was grandiose, and the staircase leading up to the rooms was fit for royalty. We went to the bottom floor and had some lunch at a fancy restaurant down there, and I got the chance to practice the local language with my boss and two co-workers. I told some jokes, and they thanked me for my hard work. It was a very fun time.

After lunch was done, they drove me back down the mountain so I could go to the subway station and start the day's travels.


Taking cues from Ken and the warm welcome he gave to me at the hostel, I greeted another foreigner who came from an entire world away. Although his body language hinted, and speaking with him later confirmed, that he was condescending, picky and annoying, I still made it my happy mission to give him the welcome that I had also received. He talked a little about his home country, but most of our interactions came a little later near midnight, seated at the table near the window of the hostel situated a dozen floors above the city, while I attempted to teach him some of the local language.

Our impromptu tutoring session started when he told me that he was a vegetarian and wanted to ask the locals not to add meat to his meals, and he asked me if I knew what to say. By then, I had learned several hundred words of the local language and "I don't eat meat" was a set of simple words that I had long since mastered. After I told him, he kept saying the words wrong time and time again. It was such a simple phrase; I knew the only reason he kept messing it up was because he knew nothing of the local language.

But rather than get frustrated and chalk him up as yet another in a long string of disrespectful foreigners, I patiently repeated the phrase and gave him tips until he was able to speak it correctly. Once that was done, I gave him a quick and dirty primer on the language, its grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, and how to use mnemonics to cut study time by a factor of ten. I used his pencil and notebook to make note after note for him to study later, but he remained emotionless and uninterested throughout the lesson. In fact, he seemed a lot more interested in reprimanding me for accidentally breaking his pencil lead two or three times.

An hour or so later, when I had given him all he needed to know to master the language in months, he said it was late and went straight to bed, with no show of gratitude or any kind of sign that he would study what I had told him. Despite this, I still hold the hope that he ended up using that knowledge to his advantage to fully enjoy his time here, and avoided marriage like the plague it is.

As for today...

I woke up at 5:00.
I played video games.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I drove to another school.
I taught students.
I went out to tutor a student.
I came home to an empty house.
I ate dinner.
I surfed the net.
My wife and son came home, so I turned off the game.
I prepared teaching lessons.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I did the dishes.
I played video games.
I slept.