Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Then and Now 52 - Odds and Ends 7

Then and Now 52 - Odds and Ends 7
Time: Before I got married.

For the sake of this Then and Now, I'm going to refer to my wife as my girlfriend.

A few months after I started my job, I had to go to some work training with a few people from the school. I wasn't looking forward to it, knowing how companies love to overcomplicate and micromanage everything about themselves, and especially when I had already taught for so long and knew exactly what they were going to explain. I got to go with my co-worker Natalie, and she took me over there on her bike. At first I held on to her belly, because I was unconsciously mimicking my ex-girlfriend back in America doing the same with me. But when I realized that I was putting my hands in a danger zone (and acting really feminine), I quickly yanked my hands back, put them on the back of the bike, and apologized. She was cool about it.

We drove through many, many streets on our way to the training hall. I remember going under a freeway overpass, over a very long bridge over a sparkling river with high-rise buildings a few blocks from its banks, and between the shining windows of a thousand office buildings. When we got to the training area, Natalie parked, and we got a quick bite to eat at a sandwich shop, where I got a meatball sub. We talked for a while about work and life, then we went to the training hall: a huge building surrounded by a rolling fence, like it was the UN or something.

Soon after we entered, the training started. I spent the whole time doodling on my handout, and pretending to listen as the speakers endlessly repeated themselves and explained things that I had mastered years before. The only thing I took away from the two hours I was in there was treating an English sentence like a train, where the capital letter in the front was like the engine, and drawing this picture for beginning English students to learn capitalization more quickly.

Hours later, the godawful training was done, and Natalie and I took a walk around an outdoor market across the street. There was a video game shop there, a place that she shopped at before, and she surprisingly told me that she was into Guitar Hero. She had to leave soon enough and I didn't stay too long, but I used that little tidbit of info to give her one of my guitar controllers for her birthday later. Horribly enough, before I gave it to her, she was using a regular controller to play the game.


I had just arrived in the main terminal of the main station, and I saw a huge commotion there. There were people everywhere: both locals and foreigners from every country imagineable all grouped together in hundreds of groups with dozens of people in each one. I let myself get carried away listening to others' conversations, one after the other, as I walked through the throng of people. Some languages I could understand, others not at all.

One source of all this popularity was just outside, at a huge fair being held in front of the main station. There were booths lined up one after the other in the central courtyard of the station, sitting between the station itself and the multi-lane road across the way. Walking up and down the aisles between the stands, I enjoyed the sights of many different kinds of clothes and DVDs, the smells of a multitude of sweet and breaded treats, and the sounds of hundreds of people enjoying themselves on that hot day.

I was still saving money at that point so I didn't buy anything, but I still had a friend to meet that day, so I headed back into the station to meet up with her and enjoy another day abroad.


I mentioned this place briefly in my Vacation post, but I'll go into more depth here. I was wandering around the main station when I found this place: a combination public garden and interactive museum with old barracks and houses within. It was about two or three blocks away from the station, and past a tunnel that led to underground parking under the station, and the garden/museum sat on a city block surrounded on all sides by roads. The place was also surrounded on almost every side by a stylized wall with small, curved cuts in the stone to allow looks inside. Welcoming visitors at the entrance was a huge statue of one of the country's heroes, smiling broadly.

Going past what looked like a small guard room, I entered the place and found a miniature scene of country life. There were two mini lakes surrounded by a stone path, and they were split up by a bridge between them. In the lakes swam large and colorful fish, and as I walked around the lakes, they seemed to be following me and waiting for bread to be tossed their way. I took a few pictures of the place, standing between or behind trees to find perfect views of the peaceful area.

I left shortly after, and went a few blocks past the garden house so I could wander around the shopping area. I found a DVD store with a ton of movies sitting on shelves with tons of locals around, and I came back to buy "Batman Begins" for my girlfriend just a few months later, as she had never seen it. It was probably a bad gift for a girl, but she was extremely happy to receive it back then.


I'll never get back those two lost weeks at my bud's aunt's place, just like I'll never get my life as a young single man back, but at least those lost weeks served as a counterpoint to the great life I had quickly made for myself. Those weeks were a way of contrasting that best time of my life by comparing it to the lazy depression that defined my early adulthood, the same lazy depression that almost consumed me again when I first went abroad. Shortly after I decided to never be that kind of loser again, I quickly found my life improving a hundred fold in just a few days.

I already talked about the construction walk to the mall and the long walk with my friend after this critical turning point, which were longer experiences, in Then and Now 2 and 10. But this one was just a quick piece of fun that I had after I decided to be happy.

It was a hot day, and I decided to take a walk by the ocean to get some sea spray and ocean wind in my face to cool down. My bud decided not to come, so I went alone. The sea was relaxing and calm, and I saw a few other people walking on the beach and flying kites as I stepped on the warm sand in my sandals. After I left the beach, I turned left onto a street and walked in some random direction, and passed a park to find a collection of outdoor fruit stalls.

The bosses were really nice, but I'm glad they didn't talk to me, because I was barely twenty or thirty pages into memorizing the dictionary, so unless their conversations involved aardvarks or ants, I wouldn't have been able to respond. After that, I walked down some more narrow streets and past a bunch of fenced-off houses, until I found the main road that led back to my bud's aunt's place.


One day of traveling and meeting friends all around the main city, I was absolutely dog tired. I could hardly stand, the world seemed a bit fuzzy, and I was sweating pretty badly in the heat. But I still had another person to meet that night: a girl that I had met on the internet and scheduled a 5:00 meet-up with. I was honestly feeling too tired to go out with her, but I had made a promise to her, so I absolutely wasn't going to cancel, regardless of how I felt.

I was in a train station with a lot of advertisements for classical music concerts and ballets going on in the main city, and it was soon apparent as to why: the station was connected to an underground concert hall. I had a quick blast of euphoria there: I thought to myself that I could go to one of those concerts in just another month or two, when my finances were up. That blast of euphoria also got me pumped to meet my new friend, and I quickly found the strength to meet up with her.

It turns out that there was no need. After I got to the top of the station's escalator and had waited for about five minutes, my new friend called me and said she couldn't make it. She apologized a lot and said we would talk again someday, but she never followed through. I was relieved, but a little disappointed, so I went out of the station to take a quick look around the area to finish up the day.

The road was busy and there were a couple of buildings quieting down in the fading light of the day, and while I was out there and still sweating, it started to quietly drizzle. It looked like the plans I had for my new friend and I would have been ruined anyway, and the rain helped solo me to cool down after a long day of travel. Soon enough, I went back to the subway to take a car home.

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 did a puzzle with my son.
I watched TV.
I ate lunch.
I took a nap.
I woke up.
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 started a load of laundry.
I showered my son.
He fell asleep.
I played video games.
I slept.


  1. "Those weeks were a way of contrasting that best time of my life by comparing it to the lazy depression that defined my early adulthood, the same lazy depression that almost consumed me again when I first went abroad. Shortly after I decided to never be that kind of loser again, I quickly found my life improving a hundred fold in just a few days."

    Can you write about how you got out of your depression? What specific things did you do? Just go out and meet more people, get more hobbies or go to church? I seem to have a similar depression when I was younger.

  2. Sure thing:

    I discussed the general idea of how I ended my depression here, but to expand, I needed three things:

    1. A moral code

    This helped me to define the person that I wanted to be, and it was something that I could compare against the person that I was. I wanted Honor, Strength and Freedom as my morals, and in college, I was selfish, weak and burdened by the opinions of others, so I found the three things that were wrong with my character.

    2. A goal

    Without a goal, I was just drifting through life with no desire to improve myself, so I had no focus to direct my energy into. Traveling, teaching and growing became my goals, and I succeeded in them.

    3. Thought control

    My mind was defaulted towards depression, self-deprecation, anger and laziness whenever something troublesome came up, so I had to force myself to retrain my brain into something for confident, forward thinking and focused. It was hard to counter every negative thought with its positive counterpart in the beginning because I was so used to being depressed, but after a month or two, it became automatic.

    Shortly after that time, and especially today, my automatic response to all troubles is "What can I do to fix this, and avoid it the next time?" And my response to goals is "What can I do to attain this, and beat out all the competition?"

    Hope that helps explain myself a bit better.

  3. Thanks for your post. I've decided to not get married, but I was well on my way to that decision for a few years now. But relationships with women can be hard, once she finds out marriage is not on option. Most normal, emotionally healthy women want to get married these days. Staying single and living alone can make one susceptible to boredom - that is my biggest "problem" now. Loneliness can be a problem too, but it just takes work and time to get better at socializing, especially if one is not a "people person" or is introverted. Being proactive and setting goals is important. I make plenty of money to buy and do pretty much anything that I want being single with a good six-figure income which is very nice. Even a single man living alone with a modest income can build up enormous wealth overtime.

    1. I was cripplingly depressed up to the age of 21, but I was able to pull myself out of it by following the steps above. As I see it, socializing, positivity and an all-around well-lived life need a good foundation, but good old fashioned practice was one of the greatest tools for me to go from introverted to throwing parties. It's scary and uncomfortable at first, maybe a few days, but it gets a lot easier after that.

      As for the loneliness, friends will definitely help with that once you've gotten yourself motivated to get out there and meet folks. When it comes to women, serial monogamy was my original intention before my girlfriend got pregnant. To avoid the lockdown I'm currently in, just get a vasectomy (or at the very least, don't trust her with the birth control).

      This should solve any friend, romance and life problems the world has to throw at you... unless you impregnate and get married. Then not even God can help you.