Tag Archives: strangers

An open letter to some random women

Dear random women I have encountered recently at the grocery store, and the doctor’s office,

We have to talk.

I didn’t talk to you in the moment, because I tend to have an extremely long hang time when startled, and particularly when people behave badly. Especially when I’m upset. And I was really pretty upset. Let me explain.

I’ll address you based on the order in which these things happened.

First, ladies in the grocery store. I feel like twin babies are not.. uncommon. And when I go to the grocery store with them I have become used to the nonstop comments. I’ve even developed strategies to avoid having endless conversations about their age, gender, means of conception, or identical vs. fraternal status. Or whether twins run in my family. And the twins you’ve met before now.

I honestly don’t mind these interactions (except when I’m trying to be efficient in the store), and I thought that’s where our encounter was going when you approached me and the boys. You said something, but I didn’t get to respond before you were in the stroller taking photographs of the babies.

I was so shocked I knocked over a glass bottle of kombucha (shaddup) and made both a glorious mess and commotion. You were not deterred. Why did you want pictures of my babies? What were you doing? What will you use the photos for?

I will never know, because by the time I had collected myself enough to speak words, you were scurrying off, with photos of my babies on your phone. I was rattled for the rest of the night.

***

This brings me to you, woman-trying-to-help, and mean woman.

I didn’t want to bring my twins to the doctor’s office on Monday. Not even a little bit. But I’m not working (for $) right now, and I can’t afford a baby sitter. And I feel very guilty bullying my in-laws into doing it all the time. But I digress. I was with the babies, and they were not happy.

In their defense, they’re 23 weeks old, and the appointment was smack in the middle of a feeding time.

By the time I was done with the doctor– an hour long event that basically entailed her rocking one of the babies and trying to talk over their wailing– the babies were really fed up with… not being fed. I had only one bottle with me, because I am a sleep deprived mess, so I proceeded to feed half to each baby. This satisfied neither, and they both kept wailing.

In desperation, I ran to the bathroom and began filling up the bottle with warm tap water. You came out of one of the stalls. “Tap water?” you (stranger #1) asked, horrified. “Oh no no. You can’t use that. Let me get you some bottled water.”

I looked down at my already-ready bottle, and my screaming babies, and I sighed. You were trying to be nice. So I waited while they hollered, trying in vain to soothe them with pacifiers. After what seemed like a year, you returned with two small bottles of icy cold water.

I know the babies won’t take water that cold. But you hovered, and I sighed, and gave it a shot. And of course, the babies would not drink. As I futilely tried to persuade them, that cold would be “refreshing” you fussed and interfered. And then you, stranger #2, exited a bathroom stall.

You saw the canister of formula on the counter- the result of countless hours of ingredients research and obsessing and self flagellation. And you made a sound of disgust: “Formula, really?”

I just looked at you.

“Don’t you know ‘breast is best’?” You tsked.

Oh good, that old chestnut. Said by someone who has no idea what my baby feeding journey has been like, no regard for the challenges multiples introduce. Said when I was already a hair’s breadth away from crying in public. I was too shocked to speak. So were you, stranger #1, so you fled that shit show. Said something about “leaving me to it”, and bolted.

This is probably the part of the story where I’m supposed to digress and give my readers a sob story about why formula has entered my life. I’m supposed to try to shut down criticism anyone might have. I’m not going to do that, because it’s nobody’s damn business.

After having a good cry about it all in my car on the way home, and later that night, I’m just … disappointed in all three of you.

Like asking someone who isn’t pregnant when she’s due, I was shocked to be confronted by people out in the “wild” who really behave this way. Shocked as I am about people asking me if the twins are “natural”. I do think these people are outliers- I don’t subscribe to any “decline of civilization” narrative.

But I read every week about women being abused for breast feeding in public, and being abused if they don’t. So clearly, there are plenty of people out there who need to get the message that some things are just none of their business.

That is all. Carry on… differently.

(And if you see photos of my twins anywhere… let me know, okay?)

Where did my sense of humor go?

Still not genki. The train stopped abruptly today, and in my steel-toed Harley boots (not stylin’, but I thought it was going to pour all day today and my rain boots are too hot for the muggy rainy season) I fell and stepped on an older woman. She was really upset with me, and as I shrank into the train seat, I suddenly found myself crying in public again, closing my eyes to try to trap the tears. I thought about getting off at the next stop, but I was paralyzed. Finally, I fled from the train at Akasaka Mitsuke station, and into a bathroom where I sat adjacent a Japanese-style toilet (on the nimotsu shelf) and cried as quietly as I could for 5-10 minutes. Emerging, I had to don my giant sunglasses to hide the tears that still wouldn’t stop, and as it was night and indoors I’m sure I looked extra batty. I looked at my feet until I was safely in my apartment.

But i haven’t had much luck in public places lately in Japan… my body feels too big and awkward, I don’t physically seem to fit anywhere. I have been so broke that as my clothes wear out, I can’t get new ones, and so I look mismatched and ragged, a sharp contrast from the polished, controlled and petite Japanese women that surround me.

I’d love to afford a trip to the Lush spa, or an Ayurvedic salon for some sort of treatment that might help with the current estrangement from and loathing of my body that I have…. but again, no money.

The other day in Chiba, a man walked up to me in the train station and punched me hard in the arm before continuing on his way. It was so odd I stood in place for a good five minutes, looking after him. My tattoos were all concealed, so it was perhaps my foreignness? My lack of femininity? His face was just so… angry as he bore down on me. I’d had a terrible day of getting lost on the train/riding too far, and this incident just… well, I didn’t have the energy to do anything other than acknowledge it numbly. Random nut, I’m sure, but when you’re as fragile as I am right now random nuts are a real health risk.

I hope I can get to a place where I am happy about the accomplishments of others again. That capacity to cheer my friends on says to me that -I- am happy in my own life. I wish I could tell this blog everything that has happened to me in 2013, but some of it is too dark and too traumatic. Suffice it today, the divorce actually wasn’t (ongoing, so I guess.. isn’t?) the worst thing that has happened. I am still reeling from the effects of some other major life traumas.

Granted, I went a bit crazy after December, and a lot of what has happened to me is the result of self-destructive behavior in the guise of me trying to regain a sense of safety and support.

I feel like if I can’t write about it openly I shouldn’t be writing about it though…  so I’ve been rather quiet here.

As I was getting tattooed today I noticed I was bleeding an awful lot. Lately it’s been bleeding/bruising central as my tattoo artist works.

Anyway, we got to some parts that really really hurt, such as where she’s trying to cover over my old tattoo and basically has to ink very deeply over my chest bone. The pain is so intense that I have to breathe very carefully to even tolerate it. I was asking myself as I did this whether or not the pain in my body was worse than the mental pain I feel lately. I tried to approximate how it feels in my chest emotionally, with the buzzing needle working away there… and of course, I failed. The tattoo is also already over (this time), but my mental torture continues.

When did this become the least fun blog on the planet? Er, I tried Nigerian food for the first time last night, and that was awesome. Black-eyed-peas in a delicious sauce, plantains, etc. I do so love eating.

it’s not good when a shrink is seriously worried about you, is it? No, sir. I am apparently the one that keeps her up at night. I told her if it helps, I still can’t sleep either…

***

Ok, so I don’t end on a sad note- Takashi saw my socks poking out from the bed sheets last night. (I normally don’t like socks to sleep in, but I’d just put lovely Lush foot cream on.) He went to tug one off and I said:

“Don’t pull off my sock!” (in English)

He looked at me blankly and went to pull it again.

“I will cut you.” I told him

He cocked his head and asked “What? Pikachu?”

“No…. not Pikachu,” I shook my head. “Never Pikachu.”

He smiled. Then he leaned close “Pikapika” he whispered.

Oh my god.

As he was falling asleep I heard him mumble it a few more times too. I almost put a pillow over his head (lightly of course, I’m not -that- off my rocker yet).