Monday, May 27, 2013

Then and Now 67 - Odds and Ends 11

Then and Now 67 - Odds and Ends 11
Time: Before I got married.

One night, I was out with Tina so we could have a nice walk and talk in the city at night. We went to a part of town with a couple of department stores still open for business, and lots of independent and chain restaurants serving customers, even at the somewhat late hour. It was very hot that night, and after a long conversation about future plans and school work, we went inside one of the department stores to look around.

It was very wide and tall, and the inside was very impressive. There was a winding escalator that went up about a dozen floors, and when we got up to the second floor, we found a display of miniatures. There were little dolls and houses in traditional clothes and they were all positioned to be farming and working the land, and there was a little waterfall behind them. I didn't take a picture of the scene because I couldn't do it for a different diorama in Then and Now 2 back at my bud's aunt's place and thought it was banned here too, but I really wanted to.

After a while, the two of us went upstairs to the electronics area so I could buy my first, and only, game that I ever got as a single man with my paycheck: Silent Hill - Origins. Before I bought it, Tina tought me how to say "I'll take it" in the local language, I nicked the phrase, then we headed back downstairs to go get something to eat.

Games, girls and grub. It was a nice night.


I was wandering around the city from the hostel one hot day, and I found a snug semi-alley with some independent stores nestled in it. There were quite a few drink places that sold coffee, tea and juice, but I was on a mission that day.

Luckily, I blundered straight into a video store, and was that much closer to picking up Tenacious D - The Pick of Destiny for the party I eventually threw in Then and Now 8. Using simple words, the boss followed my explanations from "Jack Black" to "School of Rock" to "the new movie that he is in." Unfortunately, it wasn't in stock and I wasn't able to rent or buy it that day. But it was ok: May ended up loaning it to me later and the party went off without a hitch, so everything worked out in the end.

With that disappointing news done, I went outside to get a tall glass of frosty orange juice, and continued my travels around the hot town.


My bud and I were at the train station a week or two before we were scheduled to head out to the main city in Then and Now 16, doing research on times and ticket prices and just looking around the city before we got our daily drinks. In the station, there was a man standing on a seat and surrounded by a bunch of locals. He was talking excitedly and gesturing at a big pile of stuff in a few boxes around him. My language skill was still pretty bad then, so I asked my bud what was going on.

Apparently, the man was selling things that had been left in the lost and found for too long, and the other locals were bidding on the items. As a cautionary note, my bud said that he might have just been a thief or a fence selling stolen goods, and that I shouldn't get involved with it. It didn't look like he was selling anything interesting anyway, so we continued on.

A few minutes of looking around later, an older foreign businessman emerged from the train area, and locked eyes onto me. He came over with a worried look on his face, and asked where he could hail a taxi, and how he could get to a hotel in the neighborhood. I said that he could hail one outside, then taught him the words for "I want to go to" plus the name of his hotel. My bud gave him a more accurate translation of the hotel's name, then the two of us walked him outside to get him set up. A few minutes later, the man was gone with a smile and thanks, and my bud and I continued on, train information acquired.


I was wandering around the city one day with my subway map unfolded, checking both it and the street I was crossing to see if I could find something interesting to see. A couple, a foreign guy and a local girl, suddenly greeted me in the middle of the street and asked if I needed help. I was a bit shocked, but not because he was a foreigner or because I was finally speaking English again. It was because this guy not only wasn't giving me stink eyes or purposefully ignoring me like almost every other foreigner I met abroad, but was actually going out of his way to assist me.

I smiled and pretended like I was lost so I could let the two feel happy for "helping" me. I turned around and the three of us headed to the side of the street that they were heading to so we could get our bearings. They found where I was on the map, then pointed me to a museum that I pretended to be looking for. I thanked them a bunch, and with smiles all around, we parted.


I was just outside of the hostel. I was standing on the right side of a road with a fenced off park to my right, some four story apartment buildings to my left, and a gentle decline to the hostel in front of me.

I was behind the main station. There was a collection of local ice cream and dessert businesses to my left, and a little field of grass with a couple of trees in it to my right, and the very top of the main station rose above some tall apartment buildings in front of me.

At both of those moments, my entire body and mind suddenly flooded with a powerful rush of pure happiness and contentment. Everything around me became suddenly clear, and from that day on, both of those memories were seared into my memory like burn-in on an old computer monitor. I was abroad, out on my own, and the whole world was mine to see and experience. Who else was enjoying life to the degree I was? How much I had grown, so much left I had to see. Life was absolutely beautiful.

Slowly, a few seconds later, the feelings faded. And although neither of those times was particularly exciting, they were still perfect illustrations of how happy I was before I got married.

As for today...

I woke up at 5:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the computer.
I played cars with my son.
I roughhoused with him.
I watched TV.
I ate lunch.
I talked with my son.
I watched internet movies with him.
I played cars with him.
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 started a load of laundry.
I played video games.
I slept.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Then and Now 66 - My Phone

Then and Now 66 - My Phone
Time: Before I got married.

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

Compared to the smartphones of today, the phone that I had during my single days, which was also the first cellphone that I ever had in my life, was like a cup and string. Even saying so, I was still very happy to have it, and very thankful for all that it did for me when I was still a free man. It was actually Leena's old phone, a fat white cell with its most special feature being an alarm.

It was when I first met her after I moved to the big city that she gave it to me, and she helped me to set up a contract with a local company to get it up and running. After I got home, I went through the cell's contact list and wrote down all of Leena's phone numbers there before deleting them, thinking that she might have forgotten to write them down and would need them later, but she never ended up asking, so I threw out the paper a few months later.

The first message I ever got on it was from somebody that I didn't know, either messaging Leena or the previous owner of the phone number that I inherited. It was some guy, and he texted something in English like "Hey, is that guy your boyfriend? Why don't you meet up with me instead? It'll be fun..." -100 man points for attempting to steal a girlfriend by a cell text, bro. I remember it being in broken English so I knew he was a local. I texted back that I was a man and had no idea who or what he was talking about, and I never heard any reply.

After that interesting first step, my phone became my link to the wide network of friends that I had made over the scant few months that I was a free man. Everyone I knew was on there: Nell, Leena, Nate and Annie, my girlfriend, my co-workers and boss, Tina, Andrew... they were all there. But the most interesting part of my old phone were the number of people that I haven't mentioned in any Then and Now posts sitting in my contact list: dozens of the people I had on my phone were girls who messaged me through email or instant messenger, each of them wanting to get to know me better. Most I met in person, some I didn't, but if they met up with me, they went on my phone.

My phone eventually got so full of names from friends I had met online or in person that it took me a minute or two just to scroll through my contacts list for the person I wanted to talk to. I then made a pair of unofficial rules for myself: I would always respond to anybody who had called or emailed me, but if someone failed to contact me after two weeks, I would delete their number from my phone, just to keep it trim and relatively clutter free.

After that, at odd times of the day, the phone would sometimes vibrate and I would see a person's name or a number that I didn't recognize coming in. Of course, I would answer with their name or a general hello and acted like I knew them, teasing out information until I could remember who exactly it was. Back then, I was actually making so many friends, and eventually dating prospects, that I was forgetting people that I had talked with for hours before. It was a great time to be me.

Sometimes I got to stay home from work during bad weather and just spend the entire day texting friends. Sometimes it was my tool to setting up a great night with many friends. In every case, I loved that phone from top to bottom. Every time I felt that vibration, I knew it was a friend of mine calling me up to ask how I was doing, or whether I wanted to go out and have some fun with them. And being a single man, I always had time to spare to meet up with my friends, especially on the weekend, and could make plans to meet up with anybody I wanted, anytime I wanted.

Every time my pocket buzzed, it was another chance to have another great night with a friend of mine. Before I started dating my girlfriend, it was another opportunity to get to know a sweet, friendly, charming girl who might soon be the one for me. After I started dating my girlfriend, it was another chance to enjoy my single life out with one of my friends, or my girl calling to let me know that she wanted to come over and see me for the night.

Today, I don't like my phone. At all. There are very few contacts on it, mostly family and people from work, and I never have the time or opportunity to hang out with even the one or two friends on it. Every time the phone rings, I know it's a small chance that it's somebody trying to sell me something, but more than likely, it's my wife or mother-in-law calling to nag me. Often, I just leave it behind or turn it off so I don't have to deal with the nonsense that keeps coming through it. The phone simply costs me money every month to use it, and costs me money and time every time I answer a call to buy or do something for someone.

What once was a bridge to a fun and happy single life became a married man's bullhorn, shouting at him to stop resting and shove more coal into the fire.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Then and Now 65 - Thriller

Then and Now 65 - Thriller
Time: Late 2007, dating my wife.

As the foreign teacher for my English school, it was up to me to set up and plan an awesome Halloween in 2007, and I wasn't going to disappoint. When I first applied for, and got, my job at this school, I told the truth about what kind of guy I was and the things I wanted to do in this country (all benign), but at the time, my boss didn't believe me. I'll go into more detail when I make the Then and Now that describes me landing this job, but it was Halloween night that I proved myself to my new boss and co-workers.

It didn't take long for me to make a plan for that night for the kids. I thought back to what I did in my own school life growing up, and I came up with the idea to make chocolate/marshmallow stick ghosts, just like I did back in the first or second grade. It would end up being the first stage of the three stage Halloween night. For the second stage, the kids would go downstairs and make some scary masks with the local teachers, and then come back up for the final stage, which was my biggest plan: we were going to watch Michael Jackson's Thriller music video, and I would teach them the dance.

My colleagues took care of the supply gathering for the first two activities, and it fell on me to take care of the third. It was a long process to get everything ready: I downloaded a high resolution version of the Thriller music video from YouTube, then I had to convert the file into an AVI, then I had to find a free version DVD maker to put the AVI file on with a menu... it was pretty complicated. When I was done with it, and sure the DVD would play in the school's player, the best part began.

Taking the DVD home with me, I began the slow process of learning the Thriller dance for myself. I've never danced anything in my life besides the hip hop shuffle in Then and Now 11, so to take only a few weeks to learn this one was a huge task for me. So at my apartment, night by night, second by second and move by move, I slowly began to master the expertly crafted and fun dance. Because I lived alone, I was free to practice at any time, wearing anything I wanted, and not have to worry about someone breaking down my door and yelling at me to stop, clean something or anything else.

After roughly two weeks and dozens of hours of practice, I finally mastered the dance, and Halloween arrived very shortly afterwards. Every night before the big night, I practiced the dance in its entirety from top to bottom, until I was able to do it several times in a row with no mistakes.

The night of the big party, I arrived dressed like Harry Potter, complete with the scar on my forehead that I drew with a Sharpie. The kids arrived one after another to make their ghosts, and I smiled brightly seeing how much fun they were having. Everyone did their ghosts correctly with the napkin robe through their toothpicks, but the ghosts' heads were all a testament to the kids' individual personalities: some of them made clean faces with tiny chocolate eyes and smiles, while some basically painted the entire head in chocolate to have a feast at the end of the night. I wasn't there for the mask part because I was too busy with the ghosts, but I heard they were having fun down there, too.

And finally, it was my turn to direct my little zombies through Thriller. While the movie set up and MJ was out with his girlfriend, I was showing the kids how to do the dance, little by little. They were really cute miming my moves while also trying to see what was happening on the screen. Then, at last, MJ and his girlfriend came to the streets and were surrounded by zombies. The kids in the class backed up at my insistence, and finally, when MJ was turned, I began the dance.

It was amazing, all the way through. I missed absolutely no moves, knew exactly what to do the entire time without looking at the screen, and the kids were going absolutely nuts. They swarmed me to the point that I had to back up, almost up against the screen, to get the kicking moves done near the end of it. Finally, when the dance was done, everyone cheered and applauded, and the kids watched the movie to the very end. The best part was when MJ turned into the crazy werewolf thing at the end, a bunch of the kids screamed in happy fright.

With the night coming to a close, everyone headed to the front desk to get some candy, sign out and head home. Several of the parents came by to thank me for a great night, and to take pictures with me and their kids together. A few minutes later, everyone but my boss, co-workers and I had left, and they thanked me profusely for my hard work. My boss even said that she had never had a Halloween party so good.

From that moment on, the things I had said about myself during the interview came into focus, and my colleagues knew that I meant what I had said: back then, I really was an adventurous, fun and hard-working beast of a good man.

As for today...

I woke up at 5:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the computer.
I took my son on a trip to the mountains to see diggers, then we ate breakfast, then we went home.
I hung up wet laundry.
I watched DVDs with my wife.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I went to work.
I helped a co-worker with some essays.
I taught students.
I came home.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I watched DVDs with my son.
I slept.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Marriage review, 2012 to 2013

It's been two years since I started this blog and over five since I got married, and it's time to review another long year of marriage:


There were 22 times that my wife or her mother started a fight with me. Last year, the two started 32 fights with me for no good reason, so it seems like things are slowly improving, but the truth is that things have vastly improved from last year. Clicking on the "Problems" tab on this blog and reading back through those posts, you will see that fights with my wife came to a screeching halt after November 25th last year, which was over five months ago, and the fights with my mother-in-law stopped immediately after I came back at her a little later, which was detailed in my Fights post on January 25th of this year.

Trying to apply a logical mind to an illogical concept like marriage led me to the situation I was in for the previous five years, where I gave so much, but received nothing but the punishment and disrespect of hostile dependents in return. I have a coming essay in mind to explain what I learned about the primitive mind and how it applies to marriage, but for now, I'll just say that following the advice of other men in my position put a stop to the disrespect:

- I first responded to my wife's attempt to start a fight with me by ignoring her.
- Later, I responded by destroying her twisted logic, refusing to let her continually change the subject, refusing to back down while she dug herself deeper and deeper into a hole, ignoring her as soon as the fight was done, and refusing to apologize later when she said I "scared" her.
- On January 25th, 2013, I shouted at my mother-in-law for openly and fragrantly disrespecting me, and gave her a glare that said I was two seconds from decking her.
- A little later, my wife tried to start another couple of fights but I ordered her to stop each time, then ignored her after.

No other drama has happened since then, from either of them.

S*** tests passed. And I never would have had to act like an ape if I didn't get married.


I've cleaned up the floor and table almost every night for the last year, around 350 times, and I've done the dishes and done the laundry about 220 times each. Though this was less laundry and dishes than the last year, the extra house cleaning more than made up for the difference in wasted time. Again, applying the fact that I never needed to clean the floor at my apartment, I spend almost ten times the amount of time cleaning the house now than the once a week I did everything before. The most striking thing is the number of days off I had last year without some kind of cleanup waiting for me:


Yes, once every four months, I got a one day reprieve from the chores, and every other night, someone else's messes welcomed me back from work, where I make money that just gets co-opted and taken away by everyone around me.

When I was single, I got a day off of the chores every single day, except for Friday night, when I took care of everything together. Even the times I had to do dishes, it was because I rewarded myself with a delicious meal that I wanted to eat.


When we were dating, my wife and I used to have sex three to five times a week. Now we have sex once every a month or two. This year, I was denied sex for four months in 2012, and two months from the end of 2012 to 2013.

The sex life problem is now the reverse of what it was last year: before, I was unhappy that my wife and I only had sex about fifteen or twenty times that year, because it wasn't enough for me. Now, I don't want to have sex with her at all. The few times she plans a night for sex, and actually follows through, is something I'd rather she leave me alone about.

I can't take her overweight body, the fact that she takes advantage of me by spending too much money and nagging me about the same things every day, and the fact that the sex is usually over in about fifteen or thirty minutes, then it's back to another month long wait for something that's mechanical and boring anyway. Plus, most of the time when she tells me she's ready (it's been about a year since I stopped asking her first), she ends up cancelling or forgetting.

When she actually does want it and is ready to go, I go along with it and pretend like I'm enjoying myself (which is not at all how she treated me in the last five years), but most of the time, it doesn't matter. Everyone knows the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." My wife is "The Wife Who Cried Sex." And it's been many months since I've believed her, or even cared, if she was telling the truth about having sex. She's really to blame for opening my eyes on this one through several stages of me not wanting, then actively despising, sex with her:

Stage 1 - Until about a year ago, I was still practically begging for sex with her, and being disappointed every time. I was unhappy at this time because we hardly ever slept together.

Stage 2 - After the half a dozen plus sexual deserts where I waited for months for her to finally say yes, I decided that I would stop asking her first, and just wait for her to be ready. She very rarely initiated, and I started to lose interest in sex as the frigid weeks dragged on.

Stage 3 - By the time a month or three had gone by and my wife suddenly noticed I hadn't asked first for such a long time, it was too late. My drug dealer had strung me along for too long, and I had begun detoxing. She started ramping up the sexual overtures to once a week or two, and promised sex over and over. Her failure to follow through on most of her promises made me lose interest in it, and her, completely.

Stage 4 - It's kind of sad how desperate my wife is for attention now, and how she tries to nuzzle me or touch me with her attempts at a sultry "Tonight?" I give her the same apathetic "Ok" every time now because it seldom happens, and I'm glad when it usually doesn't. When she asks me to wake her up before I play video games, I don't even bother and lie later that I tried. I'm happy to hear when her period runs longer than expected or when she has some kind of excuse, because that means I have another day without sex. But if I ever get cornered and I have no way to escape, I just go along with it, finish her up as quickly as possible, fake the end so I don't have to clean up anything, then go back to the computer so I can pretend to be someone interesting and important.

When I was single, sex averaged out to three times a week with a girl I wanted to sleep with. And with up to twenty potential girls that I could have slept with by now, that's a lot more variety and quantity than what I get now.


I've saved nothing that isn't going towards family expenses or pending college bills, and I've donated $500 to charity.

As an unmarried man, I would have saved $5000 for emergencies, and donated $55,000 to charity by now. That's a lot of children that I could have helped.

Time Off

This year, I had 55 days off of work. Although that can be averaged out to six work days a week and Sunday off, the truth is that for the first six months, I was working every day for weeks on end, with chores waiting almost every single night. And again, I kept very little of the money for myself. Despite this, this was also the time of my marriage that my wife was at her most disrespectful.

As a single man, I would have had two days a week off from work, and five days (at least) off from chores.


I've lived in four cities.

As an unmarried man, I would be living in my ninth city, and I know exactly where I would be living right now.


I've made two hundred friends, none of whom are still in regular contact with me.

As an unmarried man, I would have made about 1500 friends, and been in regular contact with about 20-30 of them. All those people I could have helped or learned from, all those experiences I could have had, all that potential, gone.

Fun & Adventure

I haven't had a single adventurous or all day fun day since I got married, because even on the days I took my son out for a trip, my wife never went with us and ruined the trip with phone calls and rage when I returned with him.

If I were still single, I could have written over 800 Then and Now posts on my great life.


The basic themes of 2012, as they were every year since 2009, were escalating disrespect and the constant biting of the hand (mine) that feeds. The second half of this married year, 2013, was me setting very clear boundaries for the two main stressors in my life (my wife and her mother), and returning to a mind-numbing, day-passing, wasteful life of monotony.

Were it not for my son, I would consider every year since 2008 as a married man a shameful, disgusting example of nothingness, eroding away everything that I've ever held dear.