Sunday, November 17, 2013

Another blasted test

My son was taking something out of a toy basket when my wife suddenly went nuts and started yelling in the local language. I didn't understand her, and not because I didn't understand the words she was barking, but for another reason altogether: she was saying that she couldn't stand him taking his toys out because she just cleaned up, and he always took out toys from the same basket. I understood the words perfectly, but I was confused because there was no reason for her to be shouting.

My son started to cry, so I took him into the other room and made a little fort and slide for him to play in. My wife came in about a half hour later trying to "test the waters" by doing something innocuous to gauge how the two boys felt about her; basically, it was a ploy to not apologize, but to go back to a normal family anyway. My son was anxious to get back in her good graces, but when she tried to show me some skin she dug out of her ear or whatever and she asked if I wanted to see it, I just said, "No." She tried touching me in bed later, and I ignored her.

Silence, direct speaking, condescension, rudeness, coldness and other withdrawals of affection work well with an out of line wife. She needs me a lot more than I need her, and now she understands that fully. As for marriage, there are four things to be certain of:

1. My wife never did this crap when she was my girlfriend.
2. She always does this crap on Sunday.
3. She always does this crap to people who don't fight back (and after I stood up to her last year, I'm no longer a target).
4. I wouldn't have to deal with this crap if I weren't married.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I asked my wife for sex, thinking that now that she was back to normal, we could go back to a normal, boring marriage schedule. She rejected me, saying her stomach hurt. I smiled inwardly, realizing that she was up to her old tricks again; just a few days ago, she accepted my offer for sex, but was hesitant about it and made me give her several reasons why we should. And now, here come more lies to avoid me and to try and prop herself back up as the leader of this marriage.

I'm not making the mistake of asking her again; it's time to secretly reject her, and not initiate, as I did over the past few months. It's very clear who of the two of us should be running the marriage, seeing as how I never verbally abused or disrespected her when I was in charge before 2010, but she did just those things when she was running things. And because sex and power are almost synonymous in a reptilian woman's mind, I refuse to give my wife any leverage over my life by allowing any undue sex between us.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Another mistake

I screwed up today. When I came home alone with pizzas, there was absolutely no room on the table to put them, just as there has been no room on it for the past five years because of all the junk my wife keeps piling on it. I sighed and started to begin the neverending process of getting all the useless junk off of it, piece by piece, but only a few seconds passed before I had enough. After 40+ straight days of work and 5+ years of constantly cleaning this damned table, I just moved the six bottles and glasses of liquid to the side, then swiped the rest of the junk onto the floor. Medicine bottles, a tape dispenser, junk mail, tissues, capped bottles, food packages and much more went flying to the ground. I briefly considered cleaning it up, but decided against it, because I'm tired of being the butler in this house, especially when most of the messes aren't mine.

My wife came back and was pretty shocked. "What happened?!" she asked worriedly. Without looking at her, I answered, "I'm tired of cleaning the junk off this table." She didn't say another word, and instead started to pick up the mess I made in silence. I was an a-hole and I felt like it, but even after she had cleaned up, my wife was acting super nice to me again.

I told myself almost a month ago that I had to stop being the Iceman because she had cleaned up her act towards me, and here I am acting like a complete douchebag, and although I've never done something like this before the pushback, it's still indicative of the apathetic, frigid man that I used to act like last and this year to get my wife back in line. I didn't and won't apologize to her, because she'll just turn it into a reason to abuse me for the next several years (like she did from 2010-2012 when I apologized in 2009, only once, for using the computer too much), but this situation shouldn't even be here because it shouldn't have happened in the first place. So what happened?

There's no excuse for what I did today, but there is an explanation: I'm zoning out and running on autopilot, just as I have been since I got married. In fact, it's even worse now, because not only do I get the average of a single day off of work every month (and I zone through work days), but I also stopped smoking several months ago, which makes the zoning even worse. To be completely honest, every single day since somewhere around three months or so ago has been lived by the autopilot, unconscious me. I'm not exaggerating: the last time I actually, consciously looked at the number of days left to go before my marriage is through, rather than simply subtracting one from the previous day's number, was a season before.

My sight, my hearing, every sense is in almost complete darkness, and I only briefly wake up here and there in the day to play with my son or play a video game. The rest of it is handled by autopilot me, which is sometimes still set to Iceman. Switching between different personas isn't like a light switch; it's a gradual process of change that takes time to completely happen.

I need to work hard on being nicer to my wife now that she's beyond her abusive stage, and I need to do so while I remain in this dark pit that passes time through this marriage as fast as possible.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What could have been

It's the end of the month, so I had to transfer money to my wife. As I was walking into my bank, I saw a balding foreigner in pretty good shape walk happily by. When I was done getting the cash, I came outside to see four young and fit foreigners, Americans from their accents, very excitedly discussing some future sporting event.

Keeping my hand on the $1500 in my pocket that I wouldn't personally be using, I drove to my wife's bank to deposit the money into her account. On the way, a scrubby foreigner hipster drove by, locked eyes with me for a fraction of a second, then did the "foreigner fakeout" and looked quickly ninety degrees to the side to avoid further contact. After depositing the money, I flashed back to the cabin restaurant in Then and Now 42 and remembered my old life as I returned home.

Six guys, at least five of them happy and abroad, all on the same night. And then there was me, the married loser with a fistful of cash that was as quickly frittered out as it was withdrawn from the bank.

- I could have used that money for a plane ticket to the next country I wanted to travel to and live in.
- I could have bought a high end laptop.
- I could have saved two or three dozen hungry children's lives for the month.
- I could have saved it to cover the next two months' living expenses.
- I could have bought every last game that I've ever wanted right now, and never eyed another one for years.
- I could have combined any number of these things in some form or fashion.

And I could have made every last penny back in a single month, when I would be free to spend it again.

Instead, I passed happy foreigners
who probably get more satisfying sex in a week than I do in a year
while I held money that I made but isn't mine
and returned home to chores
on the 37th straight day of work
so I can do it all again tomorrow
and the day after
for the next thirteen years and change.

Don't be me. Don't get married.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Refusal mistake

My wife said we could have sex after the gym today. I dreaded coming back to deal with it, but thankfully, she seemed to leave me alone for a bit while I played a video game. She did try to be cute and put a wrapped sausage sandwich on my crotch and say it was a sausage for my sausage, an obvious ploy for me to turn her joke into something sexual and invite her into the bedroom. I just smirked and gave a fake laugh, then went back to playing.

A few hours later, she stood up from her book and came to the couch next to me, moved her head in and watched me play. I could tell it was another ploy for me to look at her and invite her into the bedroom, so I just said hello, then turned off the game to go to the bathroom. When I came out, she was still on the couch and asked if I "wanted to do something" with her.

For the first time in this marriage, I refused her. "Maybe later," I said, then returned to the couch to play more games. I wasn't looking, so I didn't know (or care) what her reaction was except to go quiet, then move off to the bedroom to nap. Later, I went out to pick up my son as soon as I could to solidify the sexless day, and when I got back, she was out of bed and looking somewhat happy. She made more of an attempt to talk to me and our son then the rest of the day, and was basically on excellent behavior. Simply more proof that treating a woman with apathy is a great way for her to start treating a man like a king.

To be honest, the refusals were wrong of me. First, the sex refusals may lead to a divorce in the future, which is putting my son in harm's way, which is the one and only thing that has kept me in this marriage for the past six years.

Second, I stopped the punishment through complete withdrawal for my wife's nagging, overspending, huge weight gain, abusive rage, sexual cutoffs and such quite a bit ago after she showed great improvement in her personality; I can't be sure of the date, but it was sometime around the middle of this year when I started engaging with her again, about a year after I first started the pushback in November of 2012 (the Last fight post). My recent refusals of sex with my wife was me accidentally conflating two different things: punishing my wife, and avoiding something I now actively despise.

The punishment should be done now. I think my wife has learned her lesson about both abusing, and taking advantage of, me as a hostile dependent, at least for now. And if she slips back into the creature she was from 2010-2012, I'll just bring back the Iceman for another few days or years.

Also, there are a lot of things I despise about marriage, but sex seems to be the only thing I'm trying to avoid like a contagious disease. Driving to work today, I realized that I need to look at sex as less of a disgusting trial (looks half nauseating, sounds silly, smells horrible, tastes even worse, no longer feels good, takes too long and requires cleanup), and more of a chore, no different from washing another load of dishes or pulling more wet clothes out of the washing machine. I won't directly refuse my wife in the future for the sake of our son.

Secret rejections keep her on her best behavior and make her go through a multitude of mental gymnastics to explain away why I don't answer her or why I don't initiate anymore, and she even makes excuses for me, like how I must be tired or busy or my phone must be broken. She's also joked several times that I have a mistress, which shows some obvious fear, which keeps her treating me well to "win me back." These secret rejections lead to an even more pliable and docile wife, but I will knock it off from here on... unless she returns to the person she was two years ago.

I never thought I would write something like that, about controlling my wife. I've always been more or less an equal treatment guy, and I tried to be that guy for most of this marriage.

And then the 2009 Christmas fight hit. I had no idea what was going on, or what the hell happened to the girl I married, to leave that monster behind for me to deal with. I couldn't tell why the behavior only got markedly worse as the months dragged on, or why she wasn't responding to logic, friendliness, apologies, pleading, less work, more money or anything else.

Thank God for the internet and the multitude of surrogate fathers out there that revealed to me the true nature of a reptilian woman, and how best to deal with her stupid outbursts. But why did I have to believe the lies of society that marriage is a partnership of equals and the blissful end of painful solitude that leads to a shining future, instead of the putrescent institution of coerced caretaking that it really is?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sex and punishment

Sex and power are the same in a reptilian woman's mind, and an excellent way to get a horrendous wife back in line. Or at least, it is if you didn't marry in a western country where she can cheat and be praised for it.

As continuing punishment for the way my wife treated me for the last three years, and as a reminder that she will never treat me the way she did again, I have been withholding sex from her. She said we could have sex after we worked out today, and that just wouldn't do. When I was done teaching today, I drove back and was outside of the house, then I did some quick calculations of how long it would take to drive to the gym, work out, then come home, and found that there was plenty of time for sex. So I instead wasted about thirty minutes sitting in the stairwell surfing the internet on my phone. Then at exactly 1:30 I went up and into our apartment, and thankfully avoided sex for the day.

She and I went to the gym, then when we were done with aerobics, she snapped at me for ragging on the crappy techno music they were piping into the gym, where every song discussed getting high on something and sleeping with scumbags. I walked off without a word and lifted weights without her, then returned home on my own. I picked up our son on the way back to cement the "no sex with the wife" thing, then he and I went home. Hopefully she'll forget about her offer tomorrow and leave me alone about sex for the next decade or two. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be that lucky.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Then and Now Final

For the past two and a half years, I have written down every single experience that I can remember from my single time abroad, and I hope that I not only was able to entertain, and not only able to inform about the differences between single and married life, but that I was able to convince at least one man out there to not get married.

Since I was 21 and started the path to manhood, I've reflected a lot on my life, analyzing everything I've done wrong to avoid doing the same in the future, and everything I've done right to repeat those actions for myself and others; the unexamined life is not worth living, after all. Sometimes, when I was reflecting on a previous stage in my life (from college on high school, for example), I would strangely look back on a miserable period of my life with a sense of nostalgia and fondness, and miss what I had left behind. But through careful analysis, I have come to the conclusion that there wasn't really a single period of my life before I got abroad where I was really happy.

Of course I had several happy moments, even happy days or weeks, with my friends and my first girlfriend. But when they were gone or had returned home, it was back to the apathy or misery. Knowing intellectually that I wasn't fondly looking back on perfect lives that I had given up, I have been able to discard those misleading feelings of nostalgia for those times, knowing that high school was just as miserable as college was just as miserable as that year I worked for minimum wage as a college graduate, and so on. I now keep my happy memories of my friends and ex-girlfriend close to my heart, and simply noticed the other memories with a slight, dismissive shake of my head.

And yet, turning my single life abroad around and over, about and through my mind with my Then and Now posts, I know for a certain fact that that time was different. I regret what I gave up when I married, but it isn't my mind playing tricks on me, or laziness overtaking me; I truly was happy, for the first and only time in my life, during those six months.

While I was mentally studying my single life abroad to come to the final conclusion that I really was happy then, I challenged my own beliefs with several questions to get to the truth of things. I want to share those queries and answer them again here in case any readers want to know the results I came to, because these are the observations I need to address before I can bring my Then and Now experiences to a close:

Your Then and Now experiences lack detail, which makes them scarcely different from the married days you zone through.

I'm aware that I left out a lot of details in my stories. A few times it was to protect my identity by not getting too specific with the locales and landmarks (and I'll fill in all the blanks when it comes close to my son's high school graduation), but most of the time, it was because these experiences of mine occurred around five years ago. It can be difficult for me to remember pieces of those experiences because of the amount of time that has elapsed. But there are two things I need to explain:

First, I don't fill in the blanks with lies. If I don't remember, I don't remember, and I say so. Not a single one of any of my Then and Now posts contains any falsehoods meant to pad them out or make myself look better. If I couldn't remember the bulk of the specifics for an entire day of fun, I turned my limited memories into Odds and Ends experiences, five to a pack.

Second, the fact that I can remember those experiences to such a degree is very telling of how great those times were, and how alive I was. I can't even tell you what I did after work three nights ago.

Your experiences are boring.

Putting aside the lack of detail for a second, I assume that this is because the things I was doing weren't very appealing to specific readers. And that's fine; the point of my Then and Now posts isn't to say, "Hey, if you don't get married, you too can move abroad and wander around like a hobo." The point of my Then and Now posts is twofold:

First, it's to show the things that made me personally happy, like time with friends, time with history, time with nature, time with my girlfriend, and other things that came together to make the great time that was my single life.

Second, it's to show unmarried people the kind of freedom they will give up if they tie the knot.

If my Then and Now posts were boring because you prefer to club and barhop, then replace every single one of my experiences with your experiences out with your friends, or taking women home every other night. If my Then and Now posts were boring because you prefer the arts, imagine that every one of them took you to a new presentation by a different troupe of performers.

The point of my Then and Now posts is to say that if you marry, you will lose all of that. I know very few happily married people, but the ones who seem to be have either given up on life, or have not truly lived and have no idea what they've lost, without exception. My Then and Now posts are an attempt to open up a little spark of interest, or to ring a bell of truth in the mind of an unmarried person, so they realize that they, too, could lose everything by marrying.

75 full days of fun in a six month time span? Come on. That means every two or three days, you had a completely fun day.

Actually, this criticism is correct: 75 is not the amount of fun days I had. It was actually over 100.

Even leaving behind the fun days I had completely forgotten and subtracting the specials 41, 56 and 66 where I talked about my respective apartment, studies and phone, you still have to add back the dozens of days I left behind for Then and Now 25, which was a catch-all post for all the times my girlfriend and I got together on the weekend. You still have to add back the other two days in the three parter Then and Now 16, which talks about the time I went to the big city for the first time. And you also have to add back the other thirteen days of Then and Now 74, which was my two week Christmas vacation.

It's ludicrous to assume that you would keep up this pace of happiness, especially considering that, by your own admission, you spent the first two or three months unemployed and enjoying yourself.

It's true that a lot of my Then and Now posts were bunched up in the first two months when I was unattached and free of work. But is there any reason I couldn't do that again?

I made over $2000 a month. It cost me $700 a month to survive, or $1000 a month to thrive. It doesn't take a math genius to see that I could have taken a year long vacation for every year I worked if I took the $1000 route, and a two year vacation(!!) for every year I worked if I just lived very simply. Compare that with now, where I get a day off on the average of once a month, and 95% of the cash gets taken away to be spent, in part, on useless clothes, massages and restaurant trips by my wife.

Condensing those vacations to just two months, just like when I first arrived in this country, would be pathetically simple. Even factoring in the high cost of a hostel, it would have only been about $4000 to have that two month vacation every year in a new city or country. It would have only taken three months to make that money, another month to pay for a plane ticket, and the last eight would have netted around $10,000 to give to charity.

But none of that is possible now; I'm married. My Then and Now experiences are said and done, and all I have left to do is to add in details where I can, so I'll never forget that best part of my life. More importantly, I will continue taking my son out as much as possible to try and reclaim the glory of those past days with him, and to teach him the kind of life he can have if he avoids marriage like the rotting disease that it is.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Then and Now 75 - Odds and Ends 13

Then and Now 75 - Odds and Ends 13
Time: Before I got married.

This is my final Then and Now, where I'll share my favorite little stories from each of my different times abroad.


In Then and Now 70, I described a building that my bud and I used as a compass to get around the city, but we actually went up to the top of it once to look around.

I don't think we actually planned on going up that day, but as we were walking past a shopping mall, my bud suddenly got the idea to go in and take a look. I agreed, and a few minutes later, we were standing at its base. There was a huge, dark pseudo alley (actually an outdoor part of the building) that led through some artificial ponds with a few fish inside. Beyond that was the building's main lobby, which was much more brightly lit and full of a gaggle of boring shops that sold nothing but cosmetics and jewelry. My bud and I went inside and took an elevator up this mammoth building, and walked past a scenic restaurant on our way to its very top.

The view was absolutely amazing. We could see the ocean from one side, and at another, the high rises of the city gave way to the more suburban parts beyond them. We took turns finding interesting things to point out below, including a tennis court on the roof of one particularly large apartment building.

After about twenty minutes of looking around and shooting the breeze, a group of older ladies came in. They were from a country whose language I had studied for years, but because I was so out of practice from studying the local language here, I could only understand what they were saying about the beautiful view; I couldn't converse. I probably should have tried, even if I looked like a fool, but I was still in my adjustment phase, so I ended up just smiling and waving.

After another half hour or so, my bud and I went downstairs to check out, then immediately leave, the restaurant with the absurdly high prices, then went back downstairs to get some grub at a more affordable (and probably more delicious) local place.


Near the middle to the end of my stay at the hostel, I had a much better understanding of the city than when I had first come. In fact, the bus route map and a second, unmarked subway map, the former given to me by Ken and the latter that I picked up at the station, were things I hardly ever used anymore.

One day, as I was looking around the lobby of the hostel and checking out some brochures and pictures, a new arrival came up the elevator. He was a foreigner like me, except he looked ready to take on the city: sun hat with strap, huge backpack, camo jeans, the works. I smiled, and decided to welcome him like Ken had welcomed me. I introduced myself, shook his hand, and asked him questions about his home country, showed him around the hostel, told him of some places he could see, the works.

He said he wanted to visit some old palace, and since it was still noon, that he was going to head there right then. I asked if he knew how to work the subway system, and he said no, so I offered to accompany him and show him around. He politely refused, but after a little insistence, he agreed to let me play tour guide, and we went down the elevator to go check out the city.

We talked on the way up the road to the junction station that I had used hundreds of times by then, and got ourselves down to the subway cars, where I showed him how to pay and board. When I was done, he said that he could probably take it from there, but I said that I had nothing but free time while I was at the hostel, so I could take him to the junction station to show him where to transfer.

He seemed grateful, and we kept on going, talking about sights to see and the like, until we came to the main station where almost all the cars met up. Since his destination was to the west, and I wanted to head north, that was where we parted. But before he headed out, I gave him both of my maps so he wouldn't get lost. He took them with reluctance, saying I might need them more, but I smiled and told him that if he spent a few weeks here like I did, he'd be an expert, too.

Then, repeating Ken's words to me, I said, "They'll save your life, too."

He smiled, we shook hands, and we went on our ways to enjoy our lives as single men abroad.


One day off from work, I decided it was time to be a tourist. I took a subway ride to a spot in the center of town, and came out at the station there, ready to see the sight for the day: an old mansion turned tourist spot.

I don't remember much of the trip there. There was only one little memory I had of the way in, and it was when I got a little lost about halfway there. I was standing next to a very large grassy median in the center of a ring of very tall buildings. The area was an absolute mess of twisting, car-glutted roads. I think almost every city in the world has a place like this: where all the main streets seem to converge in a huge, insane mishmash of traffic lights and winding streets. I zigzagged my way through several green lights before I made my way out of there.

Before I knew it, I was at the mansion. I don't know what happened to the family there, whether they all passed away, lost their fortune or just decided to sell/give their estate up to become a national monument, but there it was. The two entrances were both surrounded by little fountains and well-tended gardens of multicolored flowers. The stone roads that led in also split off in multiple directions, and there were awnings over almost every one of the little paths.

There really wasn't much else to see there. There were a couple of locals walking and looking around, but the stone paths that led all around the estate ended up in largely empty rooms. There were a couple of pictures and portraits of landscapes in a couple of them, and there was a DVD being projected in another about the history of the family, but otherwise, not much. Still, it was a nice enough walk, so I enjoyed myself.

I left the estate not long after seeing the last empty room, and headed away from the bustle of the busy streets to some place a little more relaxed. I wandered down a couple of narrow alleys between buildings, and knew I was on to something when the ground started to slope up. After passing a little garage and a smiling local working on his car, I came to the summit of the little slope: it was a wide field of grass that spread out as far as the eye could see to my left and right, and dropped sharply and suddenly to the banks of a tame river below.

I got as close as I could to the side to peek down, and the view was amazing. It was serene the way the sun glinted off of the water, and how wild, leaning shrubs clung to the grassy slopes for dear life on both sides with proud trees above them. On my left and right, running over the river, were a pair of suspension bridges. I watched a couple of cars travel over the both of them, and I started to really miss my motorcycle at that point. I knew I wanted to get another one while I was here, so I could visit more places in a single day than I could just traveling on foot. I was there for a half hour or so, then started the walk back to the subway.


I took a trip with a one-time internet friend to a town with a bunch of movie theaters and restaurants. She took me to a restaurant that sold really popular meat soup, and asked me to try some. I asked what was in it, but she refused to tell me until I was done eating. I figured out exactly what it was before I had my first slurp, but I played dumb and downed it all anyway, keeping my gag reflex in check until I was done. Then, of course, she told me it was entrails, I faked looking sick for a few seconds, and she laughed. It didn't taste that bad, actually. In fact, it really didn't taste like anything, but it had the texture of rubber, and that was kind of nasty.

The movie town was several blocks of the city closed off so that only pedestrians could go through it; my friend and I walked straight down roads that cars had driven on just a bit before. We walked past a bunch of movie theaters and crowds of high school and college kids, all of them trying to one-up each other with their fashion sense: long hair and loud T-shirts for the boys, heavy makeup and short skirts on the girls. Just like back home, I thought. On the edge of the movie town, there was a square clearing between a bunch of tall buildings, some that had movie theaters on every floor, others which were restaurants piled on top of each other. In the clearing were several people selling artsy things: pictures, CDs, movies and more.

A bit away, I felt my heart skip a beat and felt a little nervous. Next to a rack of used CDs was someone dressed as No-Face from my littlest sister's favorite movie of all time, Spirited Away. The costume was so well made that I thought it was real. The boss' white face slowly turned around the clearing, looking for customers to assist, and I felt even more nervous when the face looked directly at me, then turned away a few seconds later.

Nonetheless, I knew I had to get a picture of the boss and give it to my sister later, so I slowly approached from a blind spot to the side, and spoke up. "Excuse me," I said in the local language, and No-Face's face turned to look at me. A shiver went down my spine. "Can I take a picture with you?"

"Sure!" a girl's squeaky voice came out. I stifled a laugh, smiled a big smile, and the big chicken got his picture.


For my final Odds and Ends experience, I wanted to bring everything full circle and describe my very first experience coming here. There's nothing really special about that time, but the difference between that time and my eventual single life are very telling.

I didn't do much on the plane besides watch movies, but I spent portions of the flight nervously talking to a beautiful woman and got her email address, but I fell out of contact with her after a few weeks. When I arrived in the country, I told myself that I had to start putting out an air of confidence and I needed to start talking to more people. On the way through the airport terminal, I made an effort to smile and nod at other people, but I was still nervous, and it all felt so fake (it was just my old mind's way of trying to hold onto old habits). I went through customs and out to the front of the airport where I waited for my bud and his uncle and aunt, and they were about half an hour late, so I got nervous again about being stranded with no support. Eventually we met up, and I got into the car and we drove to his aunt's place, where I climbed the stairwell up to our room and dumped my stuff out.

It started pouring rain about then, but my bud and I went outside anyway so he could teach me how to change my money at the bank, and I picked up a couple hundred dollars worth of the local currency. While we were outside, I felt a little depressed because I wanted to start being a leader and work on my confidence, but there I was, just following my bud around like a puppy.

After that, we headed back to our room, where I felt absolutely exhausted from the jet lag. My bud warned me not to go to sleep until nighttime, and knowing he was right, we spent a couple of hours upstairs playing PSP together. Unfortunately, because he played copied games and I didn't, we played next to each other, but on our own. Night rolled around rather soon after that, so after PSPing and talking about old times for a few hours, my bud and I got ready to sleep.

Before I drifted off, I took a picture of myself as a "Before" photo, knowing that at the time, I wasn't a very attractive guy in any sense of the word. It wasn't a bad picture, but it certainly wasn't anything special: my hair was really short, I had a nervous smile on, I was about twenty pounds overweight and my eyes told the world that I was afraid.

A little over a month later, I took the internet profile "After" picture of myself at the hostel: spiked hair, confident "bad boy" smile, perfect weight and piercingly direct eyes. It took a little time, but I had arrived.

When I first got on the plane in June of 2007, I had no idea that I was going to be heading to the place where I would spend the best six months of my life, and I think my Then and Now posts really bring that out. I also had no idea that I would cap that experience off with marriage, which would destroy everything I had ever worked for. I should have thought things through and realized what I had, instead of believing the metric tons of tripe that society and the media had fed me about the non-existent benefits of this ruinous institution. All I have left of my old days now are my memories, and the fourteen year wait until I can have that life again.

As for today...

I woke up at 6:00.
I played video games.
My son woke up, so I turned off the game.
I played video games with him.
I prepared teaching lessons.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I ate dinner.
I roughhoused with my son.
I watched TV.
I played video games with my son.
I started a load of laundry.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I played cell phone games with my son.
I hung up wet laundry.
I slept.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Then and Now 74 - Last Christmas

Then and Now 74 - Last Christmas
Time: Late 2007, dating my wife.

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

This is the final transition of my single time, from dating to marriage, and is also the final time I had as a free man while dating my girlfriend before my entire life turned into the married gruel that it is today. Because this particular Then and Now was the last period of my life before I ended up shackled and beaten down into the married loser that I am today, this time holds an especially warm significance to me.

From the time of my birth to the day I left my family for the final time, my mother, siblings and I had never missed a Christmas together. Even through my mother's first three divorces, several family troubles, moving almost a dozen times and everything else, we always had that one day of the year to be with one another. In 2007, after I had conquered my depression, moved to a foreign country, lived on my own and met my excellent girlfriend, I wasn't about to let this be the year that our family was missing one. I had left a child, and I was coming back that Christmas a man.

Speaking of traditions, it was also tradition in my family to blow your entire first paycheck on something for yourself. And so, that's what I did: I saved up about $2000 for my plane ticket and money to buy pizza and stuff for my friends, and brought along a sack of video games to sell so I could go back abroad again with a little scratch. Truthfully, it was hardly necessary: I was making so much money before I got married that I would have been able to save up my emergency money goal of $5000 in about three months, and started giving to charity by mid-2008, so I wasn't all that concerned about my finances at that point.

My last Christmas took place over two solid weeks of absolute fun. It started at the airport with my girlfriend, and we had a final meal of Burger King, which I hadn't eaten since I entered the country. She couldn't believe the way I liked to eat the hamburgers there, by placing rows of french fries on the patty before eating. When I had checked my bags, she couldn't stop kissing and hugging me as I was on my way out. I protested fakely and hugged her back, then we finally waved goodbye and I was on my way to the plane.

My hair was spiked and I was dressed very nicely for the trip back home, because date, work or plane trip, I liked looking my best no matter where I went. I chatted with a couple of the people aboard the plane, then when they settled into their seats and got quiet, I pulled out my freshly charged laptop and PSP to play some video games. Thanks to them, and the movies playing on the little TV on the seat in front of me, I was back home in no time.

My mother met me at the airport, and it was getting on in the day. Luckily, my favorite Mexican restaurant was still open, so she took me there to get some massive, oily, creamy bean and cheese burritos covered in their exquisite sauce. Then, we went home, where hugs, kisses, handshakes and everything else waited for me from my family. As soon as I could, I put up scads of my video games up for auction on the family computer, and over the following two weeks, I saw bids coming in from all over the country piling up on them. I made close to a thousand dollars from sales, and ended up taking back a good chunk of the money than I started with.

I took a long walk back to my grandma's house from my mother's on my second or third day there. It was the middle of the afternoon when I left, and it took an hour or two to walk all the way, but it was such a great day that it felt very relaxing. The air was crisp with the chill of winter, and having spent six months in the cramped cities of this country, it was refreshing to be back in America, where the houses were big and the roads were wide. As I walked through the business section of town, I noticed dozens of stores that were run by locals of this country who had immigrated to America. All of the signs were written in both the local language and English, but where the local language signs had mystified me as a boy, I was able to read and understand most of them that day.

Passing through the lines of shops, I left my lower-middle income city behind and headed through some rich towns to where my grandma lived. The more I walked towards her house, the more trees there were growing on the sidewalk, down the road medians and in front of houses and offices. The air, already refreshing from December's frost, was cleaner than I had ever breathed abroad.

When I got to my grandma's house, I was happy to see that her car was there. I knocked on the door, and she surprisedly let me in, where I gave her her angel doll present that could plug in to make it light up. We talked for a good hour or two, and she told me about some health scares that she had had, what she had done with my old room there (storage room), and showed me some gardening that she had done outside. I even learned a surprising fact that day: she was as into the WWE as I was back then.

After getting some lemonade from the lemon trees she had out back, I said goodbye and walked on. With every couple of minutes, the day was getting darker and darker, until it was almost pitch black in my childhood town. There were very few streetlights in the city, and with the towering, dark trees lining the roads everywhere I went, and a lack of cars on the roads, it soon became a place of peaceful solitude.

My best friend lived very close to my grandmother, maybe a fifteen minute walk away, so I went to his house next, snapping blurry pictures of Christmas lights all over the place as I went. When I got there, though, he wasn't home, so I left a note on his door to get into contact with me later. An hour or two later, I was back home.

On another day, I walked to my bud's house, who lived relatively close to my best friend, so I could bring him his present and apologize for my lazy behavior in finding us housing abroad. His mom let me in the house and called him down, and I said sorry. Cool as ice, he let me know that it wasn't a big deal, and he and I made plans to get together with my other best friend later.

When we did, my best friend had brought our mutual friend Oscar, and six other friends we had all made on World of Warcraft a few years back. While I was gone, my best friend and his WoW buddies had all gotten to know one another even better, and we all decided to have a big bash at Medieval Times while I was in town, so we could meet up for the first time. On the way there, I got to know one of the WoW guys, Sid, a long-haired guy with an amazing sense of humor. He was very quiet when we first met in my best friend's car, but I kept up with my self-effacing humor, experiences abroad and general good nature so well, that the ice between us was broken in a matter of minutes.

I met another of my former WoW buddies when we arrived at Medieval Times: Elaine. She was incredibly nice and very cute. When she first saw me with my spiked hair standing next to my best friend, I smiled and said, "Hey, Elaine." She looked back at me warily. "Who are you?" she asked. I smiled wider and told her my Troll Hunter's screen name. Her face lit up in an instant, and she shouted my real name as she ran forward to hug me tight.

That night was an excellent night of feast, sport and action. Our knight lost, but I got to hold an Excalibur replica at the shop later.

Another day, Oscar brought his PS3 and Rock Band to my best friend's house for rotating groups of us to play together, while the others smoked, drank and ate pizza. As luck would have it, I had bought a PS3 and Rock Band while I was abroad, so I was excellent at guitar, great at drumming, and halfway decent at singing. There were several awesome people at the party, and I got to know two pretty well:

Ed, a hilarious, larger than life guy with long hair, was Sid's brother. He was amazing on the vocals, and always had hilarious jokes to tell. I learned the term "spank bank" from him.

Henry was someone that you might think, from the looks of him, was a completely average person. But he was anything but: he was sharp and quick-witted, and while we were all outside between songs and smoking, he led several interesting discussions. One was an interesting observation that animals feel euphoria before they die, and it served no biological purpose, so that might be evidence of a creator. Another was a "Would You Rather" game, where everyone in the group unanimously picked being paralyzed, getting a sex change operation or having their testicles eaten by a shark (my choice) over sleeping with Rosie O'Donnell. He was a great drummer, too.

During Rock Band, everyone was amazed by how well I was playing the drums, especially when I took us through Cherub Rock on Expert, but even I wasn't good enough to beat Paranoid; Henry and Sid had to take turns pressing the foot pedal for me. One of my favorite moments was when I was playing a guitar solo while smoking, taking hits of my cig from one side of my mouth and blowing the smoke out the other side while I kept up the strumming nearly perfectly. It felt cool, though I know it was geeky.

Yet another time at my best friend's place, we all did some screwdrivers and smoked a little pot. I was a bit nervous, because the last time I smoked, I was a depressed teenager in college. After I had smoked then, I was scared to death that everyone around me was staring at me and judging me, I had hot and cold flashes, and I had pitch black tunnel vision for several hours after. Even when I went home and slept, I was still out of it for another day.

But this time, I got giggly. Everything everyone was saying was absolutely hilarious, but when we had our two DDs take us to Denny's to get something to eat, I tried to keep myself under control. Still, I remember that when my best friend ordered the "Super Bird" sandwich, I couldn't stop snickering at the name. After I had a burger and fries, I got up to go to the bathroom, and I felt a little dizzy. I started to think that everyone was looking at me and judging me again.

So? I thought to myself. Let 'em stare. I gotta take a leak.

On another day, my family and I went back to my favorite Mexican restaurant to get more burritos, but this time, an aunt that I hadn't seen in about ten years and her husband came with us. I was charismatic, funny and interesting the whole time, which I guess was a shock to my aunt, because the last time she saw me, I was a long-haired, depressed, scowling loser. I took a picture with her outside, bright smiles on the both of us. My hair was spiked, I was wearing my favorite black shirt and blue jeans combo, and I had a bit of a beard growing: my favorite look. It's the last picture I have of myself before my girlfriend got pregnant, and I still can't believe how lively I looked back then.

My littlest sister and I spent a lot of time playing our favorite video games together, ones that she watched me play over several years as she fell asleep in my room nearly every night. We played every one of those games together over our vacation. I directed her on how to pick up Poshul, her favorite character from Chrono Cross, showed her how to beat quick enemies in Castlevania - Symphony of the Night, and advised her on upgrades to buy in Rock 'n Roll Racing while we played together (and I let her win half the time). The last game, Elemental Gearbolt, was one that we had played for years together, and had never beaten. It was during that vacation that we finally downed the final boss together, me on the controller and her on the gun, with stunned looks of disbelief on our faces.

My other sister and I went out to get lunch at Subway, but otherwise we didn't hang out that much. She grew up faster than all of us, and she had a huge network of friends and club activities to take care of during that vacation. She's awesome.

My brother and I hung out in my room, watching Fenslerfilm's G.I. Joe PSAs, sharing internet meme Youtube movies with one another, and swapping stories of near death experiences from the time we both rode motorcycles. He had to head out to join the military pretty quickly after Christmas, so we didn't hang out that much either. He's awesome, too.

Christmas day was as excellent as ever. We tore open our gifts and thanked one another for our swag, told stories, ate candy and laughed a lot. I made out like a bandit, with several DVD sets and a couple of wanted video games to take back to my apartment.

When it was time to go, I said goodbye to all my friends and family, and my parents took me back to the airport to say farewell. I played video games on the flight back, and arrived just a few hours before work started, when my girlfriend picked me up and took me back to my apartment. When we got there, we had sex almost immediately.

Matching up the dates to her eventual birthing of our son, I'm pretty sure that that's the moment I impregnated her. How ironic it was to cap off such an amazing vacation with the action that would ruin my life.

As for now, my current Christmas days are somewhat relaxing with my family, and certainly a great time for my son. My family and I open presents, get something to eat, then go back to our usual routines for the day. I think it's telling, though, that the first of my wife and I's major fights took place during Christmas vacation in 2009, two years after my last Christmas vacation as an unmarried man, and that I really don't remember much of the others besides the smiles on my son's face as he opened presents.

And yet, the last Christmas I had before I married still sits fresh and unspoiled in my mind.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Then and Now 73 - First Date

Then and Now 73 - First Date
Time: Mid-2007, single and at my apartment.

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

This is the third transition period of my life, from my life as a single man with a respectable bank account and his own apartment, to a dating man with a sizeable amount of money, an excellent sex life, and more free time and activities to enjoy than I knew what to do with.

My girlfriend and I first met over the internet, as one of many girls (and some guys) who had written to my internet profile. From what she has told me, she had no intention of dating me when we first met up together; she was just interested in getting to know some people from abroad and practicing her English skill.

After I got her email and we set up a time to meet, I had a very long day of work to get through. It was a Friday, one of my worst and busiest times of the week, because after my ten hour shift was done, I had another three or four hours of teaching to do the next morning at another school. It's a common feeling for anybody in the workforce: two shifts are spaced so close to one another, that when starting the second shift, it feels like you never left work. Because of that, I didn't sleep on Friday night. I went home at around 10:00, did my showering and all that, then spent the next nine hours just playing video games in my apartment. When the sun's rays came through the cracks in my door, I showered and went directly to my next shift of work, and got through it as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, I underestimated my ability to counteract the lack of sleep, so when I went to the train/bus/subway station to meet up with my girlfriend, I was exhausted. My vision faded in and out, I was off my game, and I felt a bit too giggly (when I wasn't spaced out). I met her near a restaurant in the station, and a friend was with her. But as soon as I arrived and introduced myself to the two of them, her friend left, and my girlfriend and I went to a coffee shop to hang out for a while.

We talked about the history of her country, its leaders, its culture, things like that. The strangest part was when we discussed one of their folk villain/heroes, but since the tale involved incest, I'll refrain from going into detail. All in all, I felt that I wasn't as good a friend as I could have been, and fully expected this girl to make this our last meeting. But surprisingly enough, she asked to hang out again, so we did.

The next time we met was a week later to go eat and see Invasion. I was still in the financial red at that point, so I had to sheepishly have her pay for the food and the tickets, but she assured me it wasn't a problem. It was a fun time, and she impressed me by saying how she liked the look of the cars in the movie. We went to our separate homes as soon as it was over, but not before she gave me a sudden shoulder massage in the subway station.

And so we come to the day of our first date, just another week or two later. It didn't start out that way; she just wanted to take me to a tourist spot with some historical sights, that's it. We took the subway all the way up to the tourist spot, and went to get lunch at McDonald's. She seemed very nervous to be going there, and when I asked her why, she told me that she wanted to go somewhere more local and authentic to show me what her country had to offer. I was fine with it, of course; delicious food is delicious food.

When lunch was done, we hopped a bus to an abandoned fort that was converted into a modern day museum. Everything in there was as it was when the fort was first built: there were cannons on the parapets, the garden inside was still in great shape, and even the bedrooms were still kept (old beds, desks, books and all) in the same way as before. I took quite a few pictures of the place, and even some of her. In every picture, she had this deer-in-the-headlights look to her, because she was very nervous for some reason.

We passed by a tour group of English speakers, so I kind of dragged my girlfriend over to them to say hello. After our introductions and a bit of small talk, they moved on, so I got my girlfriend and I to shadow them so I could translate some of the things they were saying, and so she could understand better. After that, we hung around for an hour or so, taking pictures and looking around the historic landmark, until it was just about time to head back. After a quick bus trip, we were back on the subway... and this was where she fell for me.

It wasn't for a good reason at all, either. The subject of my chubby friend asking me to date her came up, and when my girlfriend asked if I would do it, I said no. I explained that barring a very rare physical problem or disease, people were fat because they were either lazy or had poor self control. And fat people tended to be not only out of control with their eating habits, but with their emotions as well; almost every fat person I had met was either overly happy to mask the sadness inside, or terminally depressed because of their condition. For the record, I was the latter for about two or three years in college.

Because of that, while I would certainly be friends with any fat person (and even go exercising with them if they wanted help with their weight), I wouldn't want to become a fat girl's emotional caretaker as her boyfriend. I was too afraid that one or both of us would get hurt in that kind of relationship.

Just like with Nell, this rude statement was met with positive feedback, even though I didn't think this way about fat girls only because I was concerned about their feelings, but also because I didn't find them physically attractive. I even told my girlfriend this. Still, she focused more on the former reason, saying I was a very good guy who cared about the feelings of others, and left my more shallow reason by the wayside. In any event, that's what caused her to fall for me: just some random discussion about overweight girls.

When we got back to my apartment, I showed her around my spartan place with very little furniture, played a couple of her favorite songs on Guitar Hero, showed off a couple of pictures from my travels... then we made out for about an hour.

And with that, she went home. Things only got heavier and more interesting between us as time passed, and at that moment, when she officially became my girlfriend, I was filled with a kind of dread. Was she going to be the only girl I dated abroad? Was she the one? Were my traveling days over? If I had to break up with her, could I do it in such a way that I wouldn't hurt her? I didn't follow these thoughts through enough to the source, that marriage is a bad idea and I should have avoided it and pregnancy at all costs. I'm paying for that mistake now.

But at the time, even as I was stricken with a sense of confusion and fear at what was going to happen with my girlfriend, I was a whirlwind of several other emotions. I was happy that I was in a relationship. I was eager to know where it was all going. I was excited to be with someone so kind, funny, smart, cute and adventurous. I was unsure of what would happen in the coming days and weeks, and that made me even more excited. I felt that life still had surprises in store for me, even after all I had experienced. Whatever happened, things were going to get more interesting from that point on.

Three months later, I would be eating those words. But at least, at that time, I was happy.

As for today...

I woke up at 5:00.
I surfed the net.
I played video games with my son.
I took him to school, then I went home.
I played video games.
I ate lunch.
I took a nap.
I woke up.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I did the dishes.
I started a load of laundry.
I played video games.
I hung up wet laundry.
I slept.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Then and Now 72 - Stormy Interview

Then and Now 72 - Stormy Interview
Time: Mid-2007, single and at the hostel.

Then and Now 72 is the second post that will detail a transition in my single life, from my unattached, free and happy times at the hostel, to the apartment where I set up my home base from where I made good money, had lots of fun, made many friends and traveled all around the country.

I detailed the two jobs that I interviewed for, got accepted to, but declined in Then and Now 30 and 38. The former was a school where I was going to be some kind of cog in a giant corporate machine filled with excessive regulation and rigidity, while the latter was a school where I had to room with some typically cold, jealous, angry and spiteful foreigners who were here only for sex and money, and who viewed me as nothing more than hated competition.

An agent found the third school for me, and it was exactly what I was looking for: it was a smaller school with only a few dozen students (later expanded to over a hundred thanks to our efforts). It was in a town outside of the main city so I had to take a train and a few buses on my way over there, though there was a very simple train-bus route that I could have taken to get there much quicker, but I ended up discovering it on a later date. At this school, I was more free to do my own lessons as long as I followed the school's basic rules, and I got to live in my own place instead of sharing a house with two pissy manwhores.

This interview came at the very tail end of my days at the hostel, and I was almost flat broke. My tutoring had allowed me to stay afloat for as long as I did while I was without work, but by the time I got this interview, I had only about two or three hundred dollars left in my pocket. I worried somewhat about not getting a place with such a little amount of money, but I also wasn't afraid to be homeless for a month until I got my first paycheck, so it didn't bother me too much. Because of this, I didn't actually take the train to the bus station like I was supposed to. After spiking my hair and dressing nicely, I left that day from the hostel several hours early so I could walk straight to the school and save myself some money.

Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the storm clouds above and left my umbrella back in my locker at the hostel. It started to drizzle, then sprinkle, then rain, and soon it was like the entire sky opened up to dump down an absolute ocean of rainwater. I was walking by a freeway onramp when the worst of the storm suddenly hit, and it was too late for my hair; the gel washed out almost immediately, and I was left with a damp mess matted to my scalp. I couldn't see it, but I knew it looked terrible.

I ducked into a convenience store to ask directions to the train stop that had the bus that went to the school. The local girl, a real cutie, told me that I should take the train directly there and that the station was really close nearby. But since I had already walked so far, I decided to just keep walking, and told her that I didn't have the money to take the train just yet; I was on my way to an interview to get set up, and I just had to hold out a little longer.

And then, this amazing girl smiled, reached into her pocket, and took out $2 and handed it to me. I didn't know what to say except to politely refuse her offer and thank her a lot. I wish I had gotten her number to thank her with coffee or a fun time out later on, but I was such in a rush to get to the interview that I wasn't thinking straight. I smiled my brightest smile at her, then headed back into the rain in the direction of the train stop I needed to get to. Completely drenched, I finally found my way to the station where I would have gotten off if I had taken the train, and soon found the bus to take me to my potentially new school.

It was a humble, nice looking place on a side street, and it had a large gate out front leading into a tiny outdoor play area. There was only one window that allowed a look into one of the classrooms facing the street, and a sliding front door that opened into the office area where a few local women were waiting. I went in the door and met up with my soon-to-be new bosses.

I absolutely nailed the interview. I had years of experience tutoring and being a TA, I was charming and confident, I had a working knowledge of the local language and I had all the right answers for all their questions. Natalie, my sub-boss, was a very cute girl, and I was starting to get really interested in her while I was doing the interview, but she soon let slip (I don't remember why) that she had a boyfriend. I suddenly felt a tight clenching in my chest, but I'll explain why in just a bit.

One of the other questions they asked was if I had any special talents. I told them that I used to play a little guitar, but I didn't know all that much. Natalie smiled and went downstairs to get an old acoustic that they had lying around, and offered it to me to play. It took a few seconds to tune the old instrument, but after I was done, I played a couple of chords and the breakdown from the Tristram Theme from Diablo, but that was about it.

The senior boss also made a strange, but unsurprising, request: they didn't want to see me hanging around any local bars or clubs and bringing a bad reputation to this newly founded school. I had no intention of doing pickups or anything like that and assured them I wouldn't, but I wasn't surprised at the request; I'm sure every other foreigner they had ever known treated this country as a brothel.

Finally, the big boss asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I told her that I wanted to save up some money, get settled, then start donating to charity as soon as possible to give back for my excellent life. She smiled, but her body language told me that she didn't believe me. Flashing forward a year later when my contract was up, she confirmed what I suspected, but then said, with no qualifications, that she at last believed what I said and knew what a good man I was.

After a few more minutes, the interview was over, and bright smiles from everyone showed that I had gotten the job even before they had confirmed it by email a few days later. But just to clinch it, I noticed some students walking in during the interview to have a class, and when the interview was done, I asked if I could sit in on the class and see how they would like me to teach. About an hour later, I asked if I could do some vocabulary teaching for a while, and my new bosses let me do it for a few minutes. Finally, the kids went home, but I stuck around to help clean up and sort things out for the next day when the school opened again. All of that, plus my excellent interview, got me that job, and the apartment where I would spend some of the happiest days of my life.

But the day wasn't over, and the worst part of this Then and Now, and honestly during my whole single time, was about to come.

The clenching feeling I mentioned before came out full bore while I was heading back to the hostel, and for the next hour, I would have the angriest, worst time of my single life, and it was all my fault. For that brief time, I slipped back to the boy I was just a few years before. I walked through the night on that lonely street, thinking to myself that yet another girl was taken, and I would never date or have fun in my life, no matter where I went. I blamed God. I blamed myself. I blamed everyone in the world, and wrapped myself up in a comfortable anger as I continued my way back to the train station.

I completely forgot about other awesome girls like Nell and May. I forgot about all the things I had seen, and all the progress I had made. I pushed all of this out of my mind for the entire hour, and even as I came across the train station, I simply passed it up to keep walking straight back to the hostel, which ended up being a ten or fifteen mile trip, because I wanted time to think.

When the hour was up, I had calmed down. My optimism and confidence slowly returned, and I was back to living my life, shaken, but more or less content. The pivot that was my mental state was weighted far, far closer to happiness than the depression it was tilted towards during my high school and college days. It was simply a matter of waiting for the scale to tip automatically back to where it was supposed to be after something came along to shake me to my core. All of my work improving myself since I was 21 helped me to automatically settle myself and return to the greatness of being me, instead of defaulting to depression.

It was pitch black by the time I crossed the bridge to the main city. I didn't have a compass at that point, so I just wandered into a mechanic's garage that was still open at the late hour and asked the gentlemen inside where northeast, and the street my hostel was on, were. They gave me a vague pointing in the direction I was supposed to go, and after thanking them, I wandered in that direction until I found an intersection that was familiar to me.

A few minutes later, I was back in the hostel, showering and getting ready for bed. Just a day or two later, I said goodbye to the owner of the hostel and thanked her for everything she had done for me. Ken, May and everyone else I had known at the hostel were long gone, leaving me the only one of the original crew to pick up and find his new path in life. I called the elevator, took a last look at the place where I spent the best month of my life, smiled, then went downstairs to head out to my new apartment, and my new life. The last experience of Then and Now 42 picks up on my first night out, and my time as a working man with ample cash and time to follow his dreams.

As for today...

I woke up at 5:00.
I played video games.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home to an empty house.
I played video games.
My wife and son came home, so I turned off the game.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I did puzzles with him.
I roughhoused with him.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I started a load of laundry.
I did the dishes.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I hung up wet laundry.
I slept.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Then and Now 71 - To the Hostel

Then and Now 71 - To the Hostel
Time: Mid-2007, at my bud's aunt's place.

Over a year and dozens of blog posts later, this is Then and Now 71, the first in a final string of Then and Now posts that will detail the transition periods of the four great times of my life as a single man. This post will discuss the day that I went from a language learning house guest and burgeoning personality at my bud's aunt's place, to Then and Now 3 and 5 that detail my first days at the hostel, and my evolution into the confident, fun and happy person that I was during my single time.

My bud and I overstayed our welcome at his aunt's house by a week or two. She was starting to get tired of having us around (and even said she was drinking to fall asleep at night), so we both knew it was time for us to head out. About a week after the deadline, and a week before we eventually left, my bud and I decided to split our house finding duties between the two of us: I would go to a pay-by-the-hour internet cafe to find a long list of phone numbers for apartments that needed to be rented, and my bud would call them all and find the place for us.

It was very difficult for me, my language skill not being anywhere close to what it was a month later. In fact, I was really annoyed with my bud, because even though he was fluent in the language, he still expected me to find places on the net when I had little idea as to what the ads were saying. When I returned with the phone numbers, my annoyance turned to irritation when he basically put me on a complete blackout for an entire week as to whether he found us a place or not.

I didn't ask, assuming that if he said nothing, that it was good news and we would be leaving for a place together. But the night before we were ready to leave, when I asked him what was going on to make sure, he said he was going to move in with his grandmother in the main city, and that they didn't have a place for me. I asked him about the numbers I gave him, and he said that none of the places were still free. I got really nervous, then asked him what I was supposed to do for housing. He just shrugged, and said no more. At the time, I assumed that because we were living together for over a month, I guess I had started to get on his nerves, and my bud was trying to punish me or something for bothering him.

We slept, then woke up the next day with the morning sun shining through the window. I was still nervous as hell, but then he told me that he found a hostel for me to stay at while I looked for work. I told him that I didn't have the finances to stay for more than a week or two and that I might end up homeless, then asked him if I could stay with him at his grandmother's place. He flatly refused, saying that she was the one who was turning me away, and berated me for not finding more phone numbers. It was uncharacteristic of him to act like that, at least to me, but it was a harsh lesson well learned about never trusting other people with my life, and to always take proactive action for myself.

Before we left his aunt's place, we found a little lizard chilling on the wall of the room, which had been staying there for who knows how long. Both my bud and I tried to capture it with a plastic container to take it outside, but we had no luck, and just left it for his aunt to take care of. And finally, after giving his aunt the crystal sculpture that I had bought for her as a thank you for her hospitality, my bud and I were off to the train station.

His father was there to meet us and we bought tickets on a train that headed straight to the main city, but it turned out that our luggage was going on a separate train. My bud, again, decided to let me work out the bag processing on my own with the local officials, but I had only a partial idea as to what to say. Luckily, there were some really nice foreigners there who spoke the local language impeccably, and they helped me to get everything set up. After chatting for a few minutes, I PSP'd my way up to the main city with my bud and his dad, and then we were finally there.

We took the subway to a stop that I don't remember and walked among the tall buildings of the main city, and I was interested to see that while it seemed the same style as the city we had just come from, it still had little differences to make it special and unique: unlike my bud's aunt's town, the buildings were taller, and there were more signs advertising wares around. Also, there was a lot more bustle of people going to and fro, the streets were much wider, and while I had met approachable and friendly people where I had come from, this new place was full of quieter people who dressed more formally, but fashionably. After a few minutes walking in the heat, the three of us went to a steakhouse to have lunch. It was kind of sad because they served the steak in little pans shaped like cows. Still, although I never really liked steak, I had to admit that the meal was delicious.

The sun was starting to set then, and my bud's father left to take care of some business. Needing some supplies, my bud and I went to a local store nestled quietly among a line of quiet houses at the foot of some humble forested mountains, and went in to get some soap, shampoo and deodorant for our new abodes. Apparently, the market was only a few blocks away from the place my bud was going to stay at.

As I passed through the checkout, I realized I didn't have enough money to buy my stuff and a bag, because I was a few cents short. But out of nowhere, a smiling old lady appeared behind me and offered me not only enough money to buy a bag, but gave me her extra bag as well. I thanked her a bunch and packed up my new swag, flashed her a smile, then my bud and I went outside to get ready to take me to my new digs. It was a much needed show of graciousness for me when I was still pretty terrified about what was going to happen in my life from then on, and I'm still grateful to that woman.

A quick taxi ride later, my bud took me to the hostel where I would spend the greatest month of my life. I was really scared at the bottom floor, knowing my money was running out and I had to find work quickly, but I kept it all bottled up as my bud said goodbye. As he drove away in the taxi, that was the moment I started to really change myself, and I used this time of adversity to make myself as strong and happy as possible.

Then and Now 5 describes this change so I'll leave this post where it is, but there is one last thing I have to mention before I draw my experiences at my bud's aunt's place to a close: I couldn't have been luckier that things worked out the way they did. My bud's grandma is a shouting, abusive terror, and her caretaker and my bud received the brunt of it. At the same time, I was, for the first time in my life, a free man on his own, living in an excellent country surrounded by excellent people and adventure, and every day was another certainty to put a beaming smile on my face.

Were it not for my bud's tough love, and a little luck, I wouldn't have had nearly as great an experience as I did abroad, nor would I have had the tools to keep up the fast and fun pace that I had set for myself. Not just that month at the hostel, but the entire six months that I lived as a man abroad, wouldn't have been possible without my bud, and I'm still eternally thankful to him for that time.

As for today...

I woke up at 7:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the computer.
I played cars with my son.
I watched TV.
I ate lunch.
I roughhoused with my son.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I did the dishes.
I played video games with my son.
I slept.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Then and Now 70 - Odds and Ends 12

Then and Now 70 - Odds and Ends 12
Time: Before I got married.

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

Nell and I met up at the underground mall one day to look around, and got a really excellent lunch at one of the restaurants down there. We went in to get some delicious spiced meat soup, and brought in a bowl of ice cream that we bought and shared together. The lunch was so nice that we met up again a few days later to have dinner together at a little local restaurant outside of the main station. We ordered some breaded meat and started to talk about our college lives when the owner came up to get our completed order slip.

"Give me the pen," she demanded in localspeak.

I raised my eyebrows slightly and silently handed it to her, then we she left, I looked at Nell.

"Wow, that was rude," she said. Then we both busted up laughing.


I was wandering the main city one day, somewhere near the temple from Then and Now 18, I think. I got myself lost and was walking around the city to see if I could find anything interesting. Most of what I saw was a wide and empty road that went past a thick tree line on one side, and a humble field on the other.

It started to drizzle slightly as I walked down the street, and once I had been just a few hundred feet up the road, I started to see the outline of a huge, walled off building in front of me. Drawing closer to it, I found that it was just some boring factory or something, with a small security building and a lazy guard inside of it sitting just outside of the compound.

At that time, though, I guess the light rain was relaxing me so much that I saw the factory as some kind of hidden fortress in the woods, and that I had just wandered into another great adventure. It was stupid, I know, but it was enough for a flash of euphoria to hit and wash through me for the next few seconds, forever burning the image of the "rain castle" in my mind.


I was out with Tina visiting a huge park area one dark night. It was a kind of dedication place to a local hero, and there were several huge arches welcoming visitors to wide fields of grass with a few cobbled streets leading between them, all the way to a massive set of stairs that led to a building that housed the hero's statue. Tina and I didn't go in that night, but I went there later during my 2012 vacation to see it more clearly.

That night, I took some pictures with her, then we headed down some quiet, dark streets towards the main station. The trees hung tall over us, the roads were emptying out, and it felt like we were all alone in the city. On the way, she taught me how to say "hate" in a cute way, but it was kind of useless because only girls really used it. Still, I figured I could recognize it when I heard it, so I nicked it and tucked it away into my memory.

After a long and peaceful walk, we were back at the main station, and Tina called a friend to find me the perfect bus that would take me directly back home. I was surprised, because I normally had to take two or three forms of transportation to get back. The ride was smooth, calm and easy, a perfect end to a gentle, easy night out with a good friend.


Back at my bud's aunt's place, the both of us found it extremely easy to get lost. There were a lot of tall buildings around, especially where his aunt lived, so we often got lost wandering in the little lanes and alleys that went between them. As time went on we got better and better at navigating our town, but until we got the lay of the land, we had a clever way to find our way back to our place.

There was a building there, much larger than any of the others and somewhat near the ocean, that would sometimes tower far above the other ones at the right angle. We used that thing as a compass many times to get to and from the shopping mall where I practiced my local language skill, and my bud went window shopping. I still remember that beacon of safety rising in the distance to offer us a way back home.

We went into a mall next to it one day, and I went in to one of the stores to buy something. I don't remember what it was, but I do remember getting up to the cashier and trying to use my neophyte skill at the local language to ask how much the item was. I ended up saying something incorrect like "How many money?"

Unfortunately, either this guy was shocked to see a foreigner speaking his language, or was just a little slow, because he just didn't get it, even after I repeated myself and gestured to the item twice. My bud finally stepped up and said the correct phrase and the guy nodded in understanding to tell me the price, and I learned a new phrase for my own use. I still don't know what that cashier was thinking.


After I started dating my girlfriend, I was still meeting people through the week, some of them girls. This day was no different. One weekend, I met up with a local college girl to see a famous outdoor market with a huge seafood marketplace in the middle of it. We met up in the train station and she was easy to spot, because she was the only local with her eyes glued directly on me.

She was an intimidating girl who hardly let me speak and didn't seem interested in anything I had to say, making me wonder why she even bothered to ask me to hang out, but at least I got to have a little tour of the market I wanted to see. The fish bazaar had a huge, high roof and was packed to the gills with people eating nasty fish in every direction at tables strewn about the place. I was interested to see the swimming sea creatures in their water tanks before they were prepared to be eaten, but I had more fun outside walking through narrow alleys past dozens of non-seafood shops.

We parted soon after, and a few days later, I got a strange email from my girlfriend. She told me that some girl I didn't know had seen me out with the college girl, and recognized me from my internet profile. My profile at that point said that I was dating my girl, and I provided a link to her profile there, so this unknown girl used that link to email my girlfriend to warn her that I was cheating on her. She added to "be careful" because her last boyfriend was a foreigner, and he had two timed her.

I explained the situation to my girlfriend, and she understood then (and later started a fight about it, but I've already talked about how I had the power in our relationship to shut her down then), but I felt more disappointed, and frankly not surprised, by the behavior of the other foreigners here. They always found new and pathetic ways to shame themselves, and I felt proud to break the mold that they had so selfishly set for any other visitor to this country.

As for today...

I woke up at 7:00.
I played video games.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I went to another school 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 ate dinner.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I slept.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Human nature and balance

Humans are a mix of two things: our primitive, base instincts from the animal part of ourselves, and whatever our logical mind has decided that we want to be. The definition of a human is the balance between these two forces... which of the two facets that a person chooses to act upon more often.

It's not difficult to find or define a reptilian human being, and especially not difficult to know countries where either intelligence or reptilianism dominates one or both of the sexes, because what decides the balance between these two forces is the threat of government (or lack thereof) against primitive behavior in either sex. Simply put, if government doesn't force people to be civilized, most people will revert to a more feral lifestyle of violence, manipulation and/or wanton sex. To know what kind of people you'll meet in your country, there are only two questions to answer: first, for which sex's benefit are laws passed and enforced? Second, is there even a strong government around at all?

There is no country today, or any that I can think of from history, where government didn't exist, and women ruled all. Men's physical strength leads them to dominate countries or places of anarchy, so this kind of place is beyond this discussion. But it is in a place with non-existent or short-lived government where we see reptilian man: a violent, exploitive sociopath, where if something cannot provide him sex or resources, then it is something to be ignored or destroyed. There are dozens of countries with this lack of government and ascendant primitive male power, and it manifests itself in the form of endless warfare, rape gangs and genocide squads. They are the absolute worst places in the world to be alive.

Next, when males are empowered and laws exist to protect and serve them, but the government makes an attempt to tamp down their violent behavior, it manifests itself in high rates of domestic violence directed at wives and children behind closed doors. In turn, wives remain in marriage because the laws of custody work against them and they shoulder the abuse, and the children grow up in houses of assault and fear, only to end up turning it on their own children in the future. There are several examples of places in the world like this, and the cycle of abuse rarely ceases in them.

Finally, in most other countries, laws also exist to tamp down the violent nature of primitive man. But more importantly, they also exist to provide women as many advantages as possible, most especially during marriage and divorce. If you can read this blog, then chances are you live in one of these countries.

To know what places these are, look for a country with a significant number of single mothers and the resultant uptick in drug use and crimes committed by their undisciplined children. Look for high rates of female-initiated divorce as they take advantage of the laws to "cash out." Look for unjust, but expected, rulings in family and divorce court that treat almost all divorcing men, regardless of what kind of husbands or fathers they were, as abusers and rapists unfit for having time with their own children. Look for a declining birth and marriage rate, and the destruction of the family unit itself, as the sexual arms race ratchets up between unfaithful males who trade out, and unfaithful females who trade up.

A man who attempts to marry in one of these countries is doomed. I've already discussed the leverage my wife has over me in my Strength post, but here, I think it's important to first discuss what a reptilian woman is like, as I lived with one for several years during my marriage, and for decades during my upbringing.

A reptilian woman is manipulative, moody and ever dissatisfied, where if something cannot provide her validation, safety or resources, then it is something to be ignored or destroyed. This behavior manifests itself in illogical, irrational arguments full of subject changing, deflection and lies, explosive drama followed by emotional shutdowns, the constant manipulation of relationships through threats and lies to create endless strife and warfare between people, the utilization of enforcers or other powerful external entities to punish all supposed enemies, and endless nagging and demands for everyone around her to complete menial tasks.

Where reptilian man demands submissiveness and obedience, reptilian woman demands attention, protection and material goods. There is no blame in this statement; it's just truth. Every one of us is, after all, a descendant of scattered, small groups of human beings that survived a major ice age, and the most successful breeders were those powerful, sociopathic men and the women attracted to said power.

But this is not our destiny. The logical mind is a powerful tool to change a person's life and desires, especially those destructive inner impulses. Through my limited study of neurochemistry, psychology and human evolution, as well as from personal experience, I've found that changing a reptilian behavior to an automatic, logical and healthy one takes a simple one to three months. And yet, so few people decide to make that effort.

And when you add marriage to this caveman mentality, especially in a country where there are no repercussions for engaging in primitive behavior, you get the problems I mentioned above. Marriage and childbirth are basically considered the last stage in life (short of retirement or death), and once reaching that stage, it becomes easy for people to get lazy and complacent, feeling that there is nothing left to accomplish in life and no need to try anymore. Looking back on my marriage with this knowledge in mind, I can see exactly what happened with my wife engaging in her reptilian ways. I'll copy what I wrote in my Combinations post, and add my explanations in bold:

- 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.

I maintained strength throughout this stage of our relationship and I had the option and ability to step out on her or run at any time (neither of which I did), and I was rewarded with respect and sex to keep me 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.

During this time, I treated my wife very nicely, but I was also silently moody and miserable on many nights because of everything I had given up. I also spent a lot of time on the computer ignoring her. Although I only once turned this moodiness on my wife, I still left her afraid of my personality and worried that she was losing me, and she rewarded my bad but powerful behavior with respect and sex.

- 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.

This was when my wife gently asked me to stop using the computer all day, and I listened to her. She was right; I wasn't being a terribly good father, and I had to spend even more time with our son. Unfortunately, by doing so, she knew I was under her thumb, and I was no longer a threatening, powerful man, and thus deserved nothing but her contempt. I was rewarded for my kindness with sex every month or two and flagrant, weekly disrespect.

- 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.

By taking this submissive stance, my wife's reptilian behavior compounded. She manipulated all of my free time to do chores around the house while she sat around and watched TV, cut sex off multiple times for months on end, complained when I gave her 90% of my paycheck instead of 95%, and started even more fights than before. My kindness was repaid with even more sexual deserts and hostility.

- 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.

I became, and still act, aloof with my wife today: roughly 10% kindness, 10% brute, and 80% apathy and withdrawal. Appealing to her caveman intellect, I was suddenly a worthy mate again. I am currently rewarded for my bad behavior with sex every week or two and cautious, submissive respect.

I don't like acting like this, but marriage does this to people: the logical mind goes out the window, and life becomes a monotonous, repetitive sludge that is fit only for instinct, not intelligence. My choice in life is to be cold to my wife to appeal to her reptilian desire to be dominated, or to be nice to her and go back to that shrieking harpy she used to be when she saw herself as the superior between us.

But that's a choice I can make, because I don't live in a country that destroys men on their way out of marriage; anybody who can read this blog and the language that it's in has a much worse choice to make. Yes, I'm talking to you.

I have a choice of balance in my relationship. I can act brutish and aloof enough that my wife respects me and quits her stupid cavewoman drama, but also kind enough that she doesn't consider divorce to take our son away from me. But you, dear reader? The one living in a country that hates half of its population for daring to marry with external genitalia attached? What are you going to do?

You'll probably start off acting nice and sweet to your wife. After all, you married her, you love each other, and you're forging a life together with your best friend.

Then she'll start insulting you playfully. Then insulting you with a half-hearted "Just kidding!" Then insulting you. Then s*** testing you. Then rationing sex. Then using you. Then manipulating you. Then cutting off sex altogether. Then yelling at you. Then getting fat. Then quitting her job. Then spending too much. And the list goes on. So what will you do?

Will you go tough on her to appeal to that reptile within?

There's a roughly 33% chance she'll initiate divorce against you (and about 10% chance that you, the man, will do it), citing emotional abuse (like she even needs a reason in most countries), then take your children and all your assets with her. And the courts will make sure it happens.

Will you submit to her demands in order to appeal to her logical mind?

Her behavior will only get worse, and will end in one of two ways:

First, it can turn physical, and you can accept it for the sake of being with and protecting your kids and end up injured, crippled or dead, or you can fight back and have the cops arrest you for defending yourself.

Second, there's a roughly 33% chance she'll divorce you, citing boredom, then take your children and all your assets with her. Or you can divorce first, and she'll take your children and all your assets with her. And the courts will make sure it happens, dismissing and ignoring all evidence of abuse, while your ex hurts and neglects your children in your absence.

Will you talk with her calmly about the problems, like I tried to do dozens of times in the last several years with my wife?

Your wife is under no obligation to listen to you, because there's no legal or social incentive for her to improve. Moral considerations are a product of the intellectual mind, the very thing that has been disincentivized for wives to use in most English speaking countries. She'll likely either lie that she'll change her ways but not do anything, say that she'll change but give up after a few days, or turn the problem back on you to blame you for something, and make you the one who changes.

And if you keep it up? There's a roughly 33% chance she'll divorce you, citing that you have grown apart or that she needs to find herself, then take your children and all your assets with her. And the courts will make sure it happens.

In any way, you're screwed.

But I don't expect any man reading this to understand what I'm talking about, unless they've already been where I and millions of other men have already been. This is exactly why I gave this advice once, but I will give it again until anybody reading this blog internalizes it: marry if you don't believe me, but DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN WITH YOUR WIFE. It may take days, it may take years, but that mask will slip off and you will become intimately familiar with the reptilian nature of women, and like a man's, it is an ugly thing to behold. When it does happen to you, you don't want your children around or on the way. Ruin your life if you must, but spare future generations, especially your own children, this sick, global degradation of society and human relationships.