Monthly Archives: May 2013

The case of the flying “girl parts”

I’ll get to the flying thing, but I need a moment for appreciation of crap-food. I had a coupon for Japan-Pizza Hut last night, and it was a reaaallly good coupon, so I went ahead and ordered myself a half “vegetarian”, half “cheesexcheese” with stuffed cheese crusts, L size. L is not really so big. Everything may be bigger in Texas, but it’s smaller in Japan, and if I’m really hungry I can eat half of an L size pizza here, or most of an M on my own. (I was a 2 slice = meal girl in the U.S.) I loved PH when I was a kid, but rarely had it. When we ordered pizza, we did like a good Philadelphia-area family and ordered from the local shop. No big chains for us. But PH’s pizza never tasted a thing like “real pizza”, and I liked that about them.

Anyway, that coupled with some Honey Boo-Boo episodes softened my current malaise a bit. I still haven’t been getting much work done, but I also haven’t been physically very well, so I suppose I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

***
So I went to the girlie doc here (OB/GYN) a while back, for my first in-Japan “girl parts” exam. I was due, and I wanted to consult about an IUD and some bad cramps anyway. I always go into this situations in a bit of denial about my capacity to handle medical Japanese/the nurses and doctors’ capacity to help me out. This time was no different. But I did clearly understand the instructions to take my pants/underwear off and hop in a big padded SUV-looking chair. Like a dork, I asked if I could keep my socks on… yes, of course, they’re not a podiatry clinic. I think I might have been the only person to ever ask about socks, judging from the reactions, but if I’m about to bare my crotch, the socks do lend a weird sense of security, if diminishing any coolness I possess.

So, bottomless, I sit in this seat and put my feet where I’m told. The next thing I know it’s lifting up into the air, pivoting, and forcing my legs apart as the footrests move in two different directions. My crotch is absolutely hanging out in midair, and there are no less than 4 people carrying on in the room like they can’t see what they’re seeing. I try to close my legs just a bit, but the chair isn’t having it.

Great. I can’t even say the anatomical names of my stuff (that ain’t how I was raised) and here I am under the fluorescent lighting sticking the stuff in people’s faces.

The one cool thing was that they did an ultrasound, so I got to see my insides all pregnancy-like. Yep, I have insides. Nothing has turned to dust in there, and no evidence of last night’s “hot yoga” session (T and my joke-nickname for, *ahem*)

It was over really quickly, and while I was clearly the only one in the room who felt a bit violated, I still wanted to haul ass and get out of the clinic as quickly as possible, and write about it of course.

***
My mother and I accidentally had a cranky email exchange, when she suggested I go on public assistance in the U.S., and I didn’t realize my reply to her sounded quite so pissed-off as it did. I’d rather stay in fucking Tokyo where T has a job and we can both chip in financially, than come back to the U.S. and be on -welfare-. The idea of going from middle-class to… that in less than a year is just too much for me. I’m a grad student, not a charity case! If I were looking for a job, I already know I can find one that pays a lot. Ugh.

After typing that, all the wind went out of my sales and I’m finding myself really sleepy.

This is the sob story, the funny one is next time

Mos Burger is a strange place to work in (in which to work)… but, a couple of points. I didn’t intend to work here today, which I’ll explain later (oops, I forgot to explain later), and it’s the only place you can sit and chill around the station in my tiny Tokyo ‘hood. I needed to get out of the apartment before I jumped off our balcony. Seriously.

I have always sacrificed my mental and physical health to my work- I don’t think others have to so readily do that, but my stress threshold is far far lower than most people’s, and I go into an “I am not okay” spiral much more quickly. I wind up bitter that other grad students are smilingly bouncing around their research sites while I am crying in a room by myself somewhere. So.. what is RIGHT for me right now is going back to the U.S. for two weeks and trying to recover a little bit, but I’d miss some research stuff I feel like I need to do (plus the expense), so I won’t do that. Instead I stay here, with ever declining mental health… and my shrink has been away for three weeks so I don’t even have that outlet. (Really, I should be going 2x a week right now, I think).

When I go back to the U.S. I am homeless. I can’t live in my lovely home, because J wants to move, and he can’t afford to pay our home’s bills and apartment rent in NJ… if I’d had any idea this year was coming I’d have tried in some way to figure out how to stay in my home, but… I didn’t. I was really blindsided. I mournfully thought of trying to start a fundraising campaign “let Liz go home”, to raise the $1500/month (including all utilities… I’d have to check with J) that I’d need to not be homeless. But that idea just made me cry. I’m a really proud person, and I feel so humiliated by everything.

I mean, to write my dissertation I need to not be working (and that creates a vicious cycle because the longer it takes to write, the more money I need to pay my mortgage). Also, there are other complications to my working, which I am not ready to talk about here.

I am showing signs of PTSD, and I’m not trying to trivialize the disorder at all…  I am really worried that because so much of my helplessless has been tied up in being immersed mostly in Japanese-language contexts, the language itself is becoming an emotional trigger for me. I am worried that Japan itself is going to have too many bad associations for me to want to come back here… Right now America= safe Japan = unsafe, because when I left the U.S. I had a husband, a home, and relative peace of mind, and since then everything has shattered. I am worried that T himself has become a trigger for me, and he has no experience with mental crises like this, so he is absolutely scrambling to take care of me while I imagine the experience is somewhat like trying to drink water with a fork.

And even our apartment is causing me problems. The only thing that makes me feel better is gentle yoga, but I can’t do yoga all day every day.

I know some people here have questioned my manic insistence on finishing my tattoo despite it going over the money I’d so carefully saved for it. This is… the only thing that makes me feel like I am still me. I had planned that tattoo for so long, that I feel like it is ALL I have to remind me that somewhere in there, Liz still exists.

Because of my state, I am actually incapable of reaching out to people to socialize right now. I just feel despair when I think of it.. and I can’t talk about serious things without crying anyway. Also, I was confiding in one Tokyo friend a little while back about how bad it is and she scolded me that I am nothing but a self-indulgent whiner who invents problems in order to feel “sick”. I was so deflated by her comments that I withdrew for days, and I haven’t been able to talk with her much since.

At least with the door open to let in the spring air, Mos Burger doesn’t smell like tobacco. That stupid smoking room with it’s slatted doors makes the whole place reek.

On drunks and my slow-ass wifi

I am fed the fuck up with my Softbank “mobile wifi” device. It doesn’t work for shit in the evenings here. I can’t watch a You Tube video after 5pm, and there’s no use signing up for a Hulu Japan account, or using VPN to watch my American Netflix account either, because the thing is too slow. It’s too slow to load freaking Facebook, and I’m typing THIS offline because it won’t load WordPress either. So, yeah, I suppose whatever part of Tokyo I move to while writing my dissertation will dictate my home ‘net choices, but recommendations are still welcome, Tokyo-dwellers.

Meanwhile, my wifi dongle is now cock-blocking me from learning “The 21 Reasons Ira Glass Is The Most Perfect Man Alive” and “The 25 Hardest Things About Living in New Zealand“.

And I really think I’d be a happier person if I had 1) a couch and 2) access to English language film and TV a-plenty. I haven’t found a Japanese show in a loooong time that I’ve connected with enough to suffer through my language difficulties. I think the last one was that high-school drama about bullying. What was that show called? Life?

**
So I went to an all you can eat yakisoba and takoyaki (octopus balls, yuck) party on Friday evening. I was flat out exhausted, and should have realized that in such a state I’d just be odd and antisocial, unable to connect well with anyone. But I’d said I was coming, and I was a bit terrified of being alone (I get depressed at the drop of a hat lately), so I dragged myself there.

And…. I should listen to myself, because I really felt out of sorts as expected. And when I am in one of my moods, I am a magnet for drunk people. The first cornered/fell on me on the sofa that had been set up on the street, telling me in a slurred voice “gommmennn nasaiii” (I’m sorry). With her face an inch from mine, her sour beer breath steaming up my glasses, I found myself nodding and saying she didn’t need to apologize (I still didn’t know for what..) and that we were cool.

Apparently she really wanted to sleep with T, but, as she informed me, she had never touched him and she wouldn’t touch him because if someone did that to her she would kill the bitch. And also, that was why she is always cold and aloof to me, and why she has avoided talking to me (I’d never noticed, to be honest.) T, at this point, seeing my “distressed face” came up and asked what we were talking about. She blathered at him to mind his own business, leaned over and snacked his thigh, and started up with the “gomens” to me again. T, missing the fleeting “oh my god get me out of this” expression on my face, beat a retreat to talk to someone slightly less drunk, and I eventually thought I could extract myself by going to the bathroom.

Cheers has a wee little one person bathroom, and oh yes, drunk girl was coming in with me. I finally managed to squeeze her out long enough to pee, as she rattled the handle in protest. When, after about 10 deep breaths I exited, she was waiting for me, and she made me hug her about three times and swear we were bffs before I finally escaped for good.

I hate being around really drunk people… I’m the daughter of an alcoholic, and it brings back a lot of horrible, helpless, furious feelings when people around me are smashed, and particularly when they are smashed and expect something from me emotionally.

From there it was a string of drunk men inappropriately giving me arm and shoulder rubs, and one even getting so far up into my personal space, I’m pretty sure he was going in for a kiss, so I backed away quickly. The whole evening resulted in me having a rage-dream, wherein I jolted awake furious, covered in sweat, and with balled-up fists.

Kind of cemented my urge to never leave the apartment again, as right now I also really really don’t want to  speak in Japanese (but I have to, or else I’m giving T the silent treatment, and he did get home and start making us dinner while I write this).

I didn’t get a damn thing done today, as the depression has me a bit useless. Well, I did do a long round of yoga, and a long meditation session, the laundry, housecleaning, etc. but when I say “not a damn thing” I mean the only thing that really matters: my work.

p.s. totally over yakisoba… I hope I don’t see the stuff again for a loooong time.

Oh Lordy P. Trousers: A List

I feel listy today, so here’s a list:

1. I am completely completely addicted to yakisoba. Oh.. my lord. Yakisoba sandwiches, yakisoba omelettes, yakisoba okonomiyaki. And I live with a fantastic cooker of Japanese food. Did I mention T is the perfect housewife?

2. My father wrote me a scolding letter about being “more discreet” about having a boyfriend while not yet legally divorced. I wanted to write back that J had had a girlfriend before we decided to legally divorce, on several occasions. But…. my poor parents are shocked enough lately, I think. Or maybe they’re not shocked at all and I’m projecting. Actually, my mom has been super “divorce is normal. Everyone does it. LOL” about the whole thing, which just causes me to up my “i have failed, I am a bad person. Why aren’t you shunning me as I deserve to be shunned?!” rhetoric.

3. One of T’s friends looked me in the eye the other day and said “you need to understand that he’s a REALLY good person.” I was surprised at the tone of his voice; this from a guy who is usually completely aloof and crass.

4. I tried to buy a freakin Jawbone Up, but they’re totally sold out and insanely backordered here in Japan. My quest has been futile. Sure, the U.S. store has plenty, but they won’t ship to Japan. Anyone want to order it for me and mail it to Japan? I’ll getcha back… paypal or something. Sigh.

5. I’ve been using this app, Lift, where you set goals every day and try to stick to them. But I’ve been so flat-out out-of-my-mind exhausted lately that I haven’t managed to exercise. I barely am managing to do research, and I am so burnt out on that, that I am writing another blog entry at a field site…. still haven’t handed out those surveys. Still too damn shy.

Anyway, I signed up to write three positive things about each day, to try to keep my chin up and spend less time near tears. But yesterday was hard. I was exhausted and cranky and miserable.

Still going back and forth on the plan for the next 12 months or so… where to live, etc.I don’t -want- to get rid of most of my American possessions, but on the other hand, relocating to Japan for a couple of more years might necessitate that.

6. We just had a long convo at the field site about my tattoos. It’s hot so I am rocking my short sleeves. I miss the lack of stigma about them in the U.S.

7. So, I promised to tell the masturbation anecdote. T and I were joking about masturbation, as you do, and I told him all he needed was a sock and some lotion. He was mystified; he’d never heard of such a thing. I then explained to him the idea of cutting a hole in a melon and heating it up. His eyes got huge. Finally he admitted that Japanese men have been known to make cup ramen (no seasoning of course), drain out the water, and stick their wieners in the warm noodles. Thanks, dear. Now cup noodles at the convenience store make me giggle.

Get your naval-gazing b.s. right here

One thing that sucks about being me, or perhaps about being most humans, is “situational shyness.” Now, having an anxiety disorder, if I am awake, I am anxious, but certain situations paralyze me, while in other contexts I can be truly fearless…. right now I am sitting at one of my field sites, and I wrote and printed out a survey that I’d love people to answer, but I am terrified to hand it out. And I’m not sure why. I’m afraid of bothering people, afraid nobody will answer it, blah blah. I mean, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, as my mom would say… or as my friend Kats would say “you need to GLOAF” (give less of a fuck).

I need to correct one thing I wrote, two entries ago. J and I had a misunderstanding about support, the house, and all of that. So I know he’s trying to do as right by me as possible, but I still go into a stress spiral every time i read an email from him. The last was about whether the dogs would be okay in Tokyo. They eat high-quality dog food that might not be available here, he argued, and Mei has prescription eye medication. Plus, they’re quite anxious and he doesn’t know how they’ll do on the plane ride. Maybe they’ll die.

My parents also really don’t want to take them in. In the whole world, I feel like the only person with any love for these neurotic beasts, and I actively want them with me. J’s really skeptical of that, and won’t let go of the idea of my parents taking them. All of this led to me torturing poor T on his day off with “Everything is going to be okay, right? We won’t go broke, right?” Etc. I made him reassure me about 10,000 times. He said “we have friends who love us and will help us.” But who’s going to help us with money if we need it? Seriously… “Hi, my dogs need a haircut. Can you spare 8,000 yen?”

I am terrified that by meeting T I am giving up my dreams of being a professor…. I have no evidence that he wouldn’t support me/us moving outside of Japan, but I’m just afraid. It’s weird how attached I am to academia considering how miserable it makes me 50% 80% of the time. I guess I figure it to be the only way to get to do the research I want to do, and publish as I want to… although getting paid well for my expertise would be nice. And I’m a recovering academic snob, always skeptical of people who didn’t choose to remain in academia, while jealous of those who have already succeeded in it.

Most of these people haven’t met a wonderful man who doesn’t speak English and is thus terrified of the U.S.

And T really is awesome. I am more impressed with him every day. When I go into a freakout, his face is amazing. It is so kind, and so loving, and so patient. His eyes crinkle at the corners as he looks at me, and reassures me that if we work together everything will be okay. It’s very odd to be simultaneously actively mourning the loss of one relationship while celebrating a new one.

But to get off my tangent, I’d probably be much happier being a freelance writer~ contemporary academia really sucks. Or maybe I wouldn’t. I should really cross that bridge when I come to it, eh? Maybe finish the ol’ dissertation first and then see how I feel? In the meantime, I also should gain more competence in Japanese. I can’t tell you how much rapport building and conversational contents I’ve missed out on by being stuck in this intermediate rut. Last night over cheese-fries and non-alcoholic beer (tastes like… shitty beer) with friends, I found myself thinking “I am THE MAN at Japanese.” Indeed, a friend’s wife started berating him because he’s lived in Japan for 6 years, and I less than 1, and he speaks almost no Japanese.

“See, Liz can do it! If you were less lazy…” she started in. “Why haven’t you learned Japanese yet?”

I mean, I think T and J are both incredibly lazy at times, but I never say so…. especially not in front of other people.

I was just thinking more about academia- I mean, most of the time I space out during classes and conferences, as I find listening to people read papers mind-numbing. And I think most of the hot button issues in academia are tedious and irrelevant as fuck, merely intellectual games played in a closed circle. We do a lot of good too, and the world genuinely needs anthropology and anthropological knowledge. But we can be such eggheaded douchebags too…. the competition makes me miserable, the ladder climbing and endless obstacle course etc. I hate it all… but I love it too. At its best it’s creative work that allows me a tremendous amount of freedom, and I get to read, talk about what I read, and produce original knowledge…. but I often feel much less engaged with the daily bullshit than most people.

Plus, most of the worst people I have met in the world are academics. Miserable, egotistical/insecure, cruel, elitist, asshats. And some of the best suffer from all sorts of mental health problems as a result of(?)the hideousness of contemporary academia.

I feel as though I should let fate deal my hand here.. I’ll work my hardest as always, but this year has proven that even when I think I have everything tightly under control, I don’t.

As a doctor said to me the other day, after hearing about the last year “Wow. You are amazingly strong to be this functional. And with an anxiety disorder? I’m in shock.”

You know, I’m kind of amazed too. I feel as thought I’m much more okay than I have any right to be.

And I swear, I’ll go back to chronicling my daily exploits, narrative style soon and stop with all the introspection.

Pick a mood and stay with it

I called my mom for Mother’s Day last night, and talked to her for a long time, while T tried to make me laugh with rude hand gestures in the background. Then he tired of harassing me, and fell asleep on the unmade bed. Had to get him to begrudgingly move in order to put the freakin’ fitted sheet on. I live with a man-child (aka a Japanese guy- sorry Japanese guys, but c’mon).

Struck by a big cloud of the blues about an hour ago. Am supposed to be researching Russo-Japanese relations for my internet broadcast tomorrow night, and I just want to crawl under the bed covers and cry. Things just catch up with me rather suddenly… and I was so genki today and yesterday… now I’m wallowing in anxiety. And I want my mom. It even takes a certain amount of mental health to really write about my fragile mental health, and I’m losing steam quickly.

I am afraid because, while I plan to go back to Houston in August, operation “convince T to move to the U.S”. has become “I guess I’m coming back to Tokyo in late November…” this is out of necessity, because selling my Houston house means I’ll be…. without a house if it sells quickly. I can crash with my sister or parents, but, as I’ll explain some other time, I kind of need to crash with T.

The logistics of storing my possessions and all this other stuff that’s on my mind (vague vague vague) bury me at times, and I just want to give up.

I don’t even have the energy to tell you the cross-cultural masturbation story from last night *sniffle*

Edit.. okay, I cried for a full hour and freaked out T when he came home, but it helped. I needed a serious cry. I have to stay up to talk to my American meds doc on the phone at 10AM CST (midnight here). That’s fine, because I hadn’t felt like making any food and T and I talked for so long that he’s just now getting to make some dinner at 11:15PM.

I think the key is going to be to make a list of everything I need to do in my personal life, as I do in my professional life, and rather than focusing on the biiiiiiig picture, focus on the minutia. Things need to get much, much smaller, not bigger. I’ll tell you about the funny conversation later.

This is not a divorce blog

But today I need to break my vow of niceness only and f’ing rant. I am really upset with J, who has turned into such a cold jerk over the past few weeks…. my parents’ comments that I was naive to think we could split amicably are ringing in my ears.

His new girlfriend *grits teeth* doesn’t like being woken up in the middle of the night by my dogs, who are afraid of thunderstorms. Houston has a lot of thunderstorms, you see. J has been bullying me for months about how much he hates taking care of my dogs, and I wish so much that I could teleport to Houston and bring them back to Tokyo with me immediately. They’re my babies, and… I don’t want them to be with someone who doesn’t want them. To be fair, I extended my research stay by 2 months, but I -need- to do that for this project to work. And I know he has made sacrifices in order to take care of them. But they used to be -our- dogs, just as it used to be -our- life.

Anyway, he had asked me if I could contact my parents about taking the dogs, so his girlfriend can sleep and he can spend more time at church. My parents live near Philadelphia… so getting the dogs from Houston, Texas is no small feat. I told him it didn’t make sense for my parents to take the dogs now, as I’ll be back in August.

Before going to bed he left me with this bombshell… that he basically had changed his mind about his promise to support me while I write my dissertation, and he didn’t even want me in our house because we’re selling it so soon. This brief, bitchy email neglected the fact that houses take time to sell, and someone has to pay the mortgage while it is being prepped to sell, and then sold.

So why can’t I live there? Of course, with him cutting me off all of a sudden I may not be able to afford to… I dipped into my stipend from the U this year (which otherwise has been pumped into savings, as I am living on a research grant) in order to buy a laptop. I did this with J’s approval, thinking we’d still be married and sharing finances the following year. So now I have maybe $10,000 in savings…. not a liveable annual “wage”. He wants me to move in with my parents. Yeahhh…. no. I haven’t lived with my parents since I was 18, and I love them, but I am simply too proud. And we’d kill each other.

And no, I don’t want to work while writing my dissertation. There’s some stuff I am leaving out as to why, that I’ll get to later. We’ll see though… I am an inflexible self-centered girl at times, so I might have to bend on a lot of this. Still in shock though, so don’t mind me. I may really have to suck these things up.

So, this leaves fighting him on the house thing, which I plan to do, but otherwise, moving back to Tokyo to write up, and live with T. To be fair to T, I need to explain the $10,000 thing, that I’d be a parasite (apart from my radio show salary), and we’d live like crap in Tokyo until I finish the dissertation.

Ugh.

I am naive about people. I believe they won’t hurt me, despite so much experience to the contrary…  My parents, as I mentioned above, think I am naive, that everything is going to go south, and that I should have “lawyered up” yesterday.

Until today I was never angry, just sad… but now I am pissed. Between that and him telling his family that I’d run off with a guy, not that we had an open relationship and were both dating other people, and that it had nothing to do with the end of our marriage… yeah, I’m pissed. Coward.