Tag Archives: jealousy

On Juice, Rivals, and My Commandments

IMG_3454I kind of want to start this post with a little God DAMMIT. Do you ever wish that you could control your thinking, and the effects that other people have on you better? No? Just me? (Surely not.)

So, as some of you know, a girl who I disliked when I was growing up (we were best friends, she dumped me coldly, and then we had a crappy antagonistic relationship after that), went into the exact same field AND exact same sub-field as I did. Only she went straight from her undergrad program to grad school rather than waiting 10 years, and has been successful ever since. She has a great job and she’s already tenured– while I’m just beginning to write my dissertation.

I try to resist comparison (it is the root of suffering, ね), but whenever she pops up in my professional sphere I find myself sliding into a funk. It doesn’t help that lately I feel like a horrible failure at absolutely everything in my life. So, a message from her arrived in my inbox just now and derailed my morning…. because every time she wanders into my peripheral vision, it’s with a new accomplishment under her belt $#($#$!

There might be a way to constructively have a rival- if I could figure out how to make the experience motivate me to work hard, rather than something that sends me into a spiral of self-doubt and panic. J used to say to me when I’d get upset about her: “Well, at least youuuuuu have a handsome husband.”

So yeah, now I don’t. Good for me.

I think I mentioned that I’m doing a 40-day yoga challenge at Big Yoga in Houston. It’s intense. Yoga 6 days a week, 5 of it at their studios, twice daily meditation (this week it’s 20 minutesx2), reading this book, and…. this week will be a juice fast. (Actually my new juicer should arrive today. So excited.)

Anyway, I can tell that the yoga and meditation IS working on my brain, because as I freaked out about this most recent series of accomplishments by the rival, I found myself returning to my breathing and just… sighing it out. I WILL write a stellar dissertation. I WILL just continue to do my best at what I do (my best has been compromised by depression lately). I WILL find a new handsome husband. (Don’t worry, I don’t intend to re-marry anytime soon.)

Inspired by The Happiness Project, I’ve been working on “My 12 Commandments“. They’re basically the key rules by which I try to live my life. I haven’t gotten very far, but I’m sharing with you anyway:

1. Be L. (i.e. be me).
Directly stolen from Gretchen’s list, because it’s so important. Recognizing what I do and don’t like, recognizing when it’s useful to push myself out of my comfort zone (i.e. I am self-limiting out of fear), and when I’m trying to be a person other than who I am. Trivial recent examples: I am never going to be someone who puts on makeup every day, I am never going to think lingerie is a good use of my money. Part of me WANTS to be a perfectly made up girl with matching sexy bra-undies sets, but I’m just not that person.

2. When driving, drive. When walking, walk.
This is a tough one for me. Put down the cellphone, L. 

3. Leave early for appointments
I need this commandment, because I tend to leave late to travel to obligations. And even though my instinct screams that leaving early = waste of time = the worst thing ever, I have a better day if I end up early for something than if I end up late for it.

4. A green drink a day…
Corny way of putting it, but… science backs me up here.

Still working on the list. Am thinking about these things slowly and methodically.


3 Strange Encounters with Guys

It’s hard trying to be an adult for the first time at age 34. I’m slowly teaching myself to cook, learning how to live alone… basically doing for the first time many things that most people learn in their 20s, and that make them secure, stable people in their 30s. As you all know, one of those things is dating. My interactions with guys are therefore in flux. So, here are three recent situations:

1. T.
T has been clingy since we first started seeing each other. He described himself as 焼きもち, a jealous type. Unused to my weird sleeping habits (I don’t sleep well, so I tend to be in bed for many, many hours trying to feel rested), he told me my claims of having “just woken up” or “having gone to bed at 11 last night” were 怪しい (suspicious), when I finally got around to texting him in the mornings. If I’d been more secure, and more experienced with guys I’d have told him this was unacceptable and broken it off. But I didn’t.

One night I wrote him that I was exhausted and needed to turn in early, to sleep in my own bed where it was quiet. (Longer term readers of my blog will recall T’s epic snoring.) Well, he showed up at my place to see if I was really alone, fell asleep on my single bed, began snoring like a chain saw, and left me to curl up on the floor, sleepless. I vowed to break it off with him. But I didn’t.

He would freak out when I hung out with male friends and there was any kind of lapse in my texting, and just this Friday when I was out late and then conked out when I got home without texting, he became cranky, suspicious, and jealous.

None of this is good. If he and I were in the same country, we’d be having a talk and perhaps breaking up. But as it stands, in my current state o’ mental-health, I’m just ignoring the bad behavior and putting off dealing with it.

2. OkCupidWith my short hair and nerdy, vaguely dykey appearance, I imagine I’m not prone to receiving the same kinds of messages as most women. I tried using OkCupid for a bit in Tokyo, but it was almost all men who were in town on business and wanted to cheat on their wives. I still remember one OkCupid “date” that I didn’t realize was a date, wherein I said goodnight and began to walk home, while the guy stood behind me slack-jawed, clearly shocked. I only realized later after reevaluating our conversation that he assumed we were going to have a hookup that night. And he’d made it obvious. But I am that clueless about these things.

So, I’ve gotten some fun messages lately on OKC:

“Is it weird that I want a girl to pretend I’m Superman and weaken me with kryptonite and play a sexy seductive villain and lead me into a trap like use green glowsticks as the kryptonite rocks?”

Yes… yes that is weird. At least as an opener. And I’ve re-read some of my openers. I’m pretty weird too so, y’know, weird on.

And from a man who listed his age as 95:

“Like you, I am looking for chemistry and companionship as well, very insightful and have a high emotional intelligence; good at conversation and yes, I am older. Someone who, she and I will complementary each other. I have MONEY!!!!! One will lift the other and be a joy to be around. Looking more than just the out side. my cell phone is xxxxxxx. Text me give the best time to call back. I would like to meet for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine ASAP.”

I won’t write– because I think it might be horrible– what popped into my head when I read that “ASAP” bit. His profile claimed that he is looking for a Hugh Hefner type of situation. I… yeah. My boobs are NOT fake enough for that.

3. The co-worker

So a girl goes to a bar, with her entire department. Everyone sits around and drinks merrily. The girl (oh whatever, switching back to first-person)… I am trying the delicious but $9 house cocktails, while most everyone else is pounding $2 can of PBRs. (Because even though we’re all broke graduate students, I’m a yuppie. I’m also still living on J’s income so, there’s that.)

Around 12, most everyone decides that they’re tired, including me, and we rise en masse to head out. But one of the guys, a fellow whose bipolar disorder* has trended to the manic lately, and who is clearly completely wired at the moment, begs a few of us to stay. I acquiesced even though I tend to hate staying out late. “One more weak drink and I can still be home early.” I thought. And really, I was lonely. And I didn’t want to go home to my empty house.

Well, one more weak drink turned into a couple, but I wasn’t really drunk or even buzzed. Still fit to drive, in other words. The cocktails were tiny, in addition to expensive. But of the three of us that were hanging around, two were clearly feeling their booze. As I sat on the porch in the sultry Houston night air, watching the lightning flicker behind the trees, I talked to one of these guys about the loss of my marriage and how hard I am struggling these days to just exist.

I remember confiding how difficult a time I am having with the idea of dating, letting down my guard, etc.

All of a sudden he was on me, kissing me in a big wet slobbery way. I was shocked. I felt violated. I was shocked.

Clearly he regretted it the moment he was done; he retreated into his hooded sweatshirt and began apologizing. I didn’t know what to say, so I said it was okay. I sat back. I blinked.

Do you sense a trend here?

Is this what happens to single girls?

As an academic, he should know better. We talk about power and privilege and gender dynamics for a living. He should know better, but we’re all a bit mentally deranged in academia, so he still could ambush me like that.

There is another apology from him in my Facebook inbox that I haven’t replied to yet. I don’t know what to say. The next day I was actively traumatized, because I was already traumatized before that happened and I NEED to feel safe these days.

Thank god my mom is coming to visit tomorrow.

*Not making light of. Completely serious and trying to be accurate.

Because that’s what happens to braggers

NHK quiz show

I like this shot because I captured a great “derp face” on the left. Incidentally, T and I both got this question wrong.

T and I were playing along with a Japanese TV-quiz program. And the first question was on the history of the Sumidagawa fireworks festival (hanabi matsuri- not the question in the photo). I immediately chose A as my answer- of course the original festival was a Shogunate sponsored event “back in the day”. T decided that it had to do with honoring the dead. When we saw the on-screen tarento’s answers, not a single one had chosen along with me, so I immediately started up with the boasting: “Look at me, a foreigner. I know more about Japanese history than all of you. I study this stuff for a living, you know.”

T, as usual, let me sit around with my chest all puffed out and spew a whole bunch of hot air, before the quiz revealed that he had been correct, not me.


T was kind enough not to say a word. He didn’t even look at me sideways. At the end of the program, he actually commented how awesome it was that i was good enough at Japanese to participate in the show. And he meant it. I’m laughing at myself as I write this.

I have moved on to mocking the Japanese accents of some tarento on the next program he recorded, mostly out of jealousy that they’re truly fluent and I am not, and this brings me to another point:

Comparison is the root of suffering in my life.

I met a guy today who’s a PhD student at one of the Best Universities in Japan. He’s my age. He has lived here a long time. While I spent most of my 20s teaching graphic design/art in the U.S., he came here, worked in the industry that I’m now studying, and became fluent in Japanese over time. He’s married to a Japanese woman, and has a kid. The kid is no sweat off his back, because she does all the childcare. (His words, not mine.) So often nicer to be an academic man than academic woman… sigh.

He seemed so happy….

In the U.S. I only play the competitive game with women (sigh), but in Japan it’s “me vs. all Americans”. I don’t feel threatened by foreigners, male or female, from any other country (even you, Canada).

Because my life is in such shambles right now (in some ways. I must maintain perspective), I find myself extra vulnerable to this unproductive mental game-playing. Hearing someone is married, hearing someone is married enough to have a kid… these things send me into a downward spiral. And if they’re better at Japanese than me on top of it, I can spend a good 8 hours in a deep depression.

I’ve been trying to snap out of this thinking for years, but it’s time to really get on top of it and give thanks for my blessings, focus on the positive like it’s my job, etc. I’m a really dark person, prone to depression, and so this runs counter to my instincts and nature.

What snapped me out of it today is learning that a 52cm box is around $130 to mail from Japan– via cheap freight shipping even. I need to mail two 60cm boxes, at least….  I am kicking myself for not mailing my winter clothes back separately and sooner, and bringing so many books here! Now granted, I’ve -read- them all so it wasn’t a waste. And they were all books I needed to read for research. But I could have just checked them out of the university library in Tokyo, maybe. Lessons learned about how to handle moving abroad for 15 months. I’ll need to plan better for my future long research trips to Japan.


So yeah, once again money worries snapped me out of my depression and sent me into anxiety-land (which shares a border with depression and has terrible border-security).

And it led to the same kind of ungrateful thinking as before: “oh if I only had money I could just mail what I need to mail home with no worries, or dump it and just buy new copies of these books/new winter clothes/shoes in the U.S.” Guess that’s a lot of money.

I suppose I’ll go back to mocking the American on TV, because he probably could afford to send these boxes. He’s not attractive, or particularly charismatic, so I wonder what choices led him to where he is. Fluent Japanese + foreigner + talent agency member + not entirely hideous –> get to be on TV in Japan.

In a lot of ways I don’t really want to leave Japan. Considering how much my Japanese skill has improved since I moved here, I’d love to see what another year could do for me, and am afraid of backsliding in Houston. Also, Tokyo is just amazing in so many ways, and I’ll really miss the friends I’ve made here.

T is sleeping on my shoulder, which means he’s officially not watching the special on Kobe beef and I can turn it off. Poor cows.