be my valentine: you can either play the game or run away

this is what i usually look like on february 14th

this is what i usually look like on february 14th

It’s the day before valentines day and I’m hyperventilating. i can just feel the bile rising. many people don’t want to participate in this archaic tradition. girls are given red roses, and some confess their love. it’s all just a ruse used to stroke our egos. i remember the looks on the faces of the girls that got red roses delivered to their classes on valentines day. superiority. that’s what they felt. because they knew that they were wanted.  and the rest of us would just sit there hoping that one rose would come our way. even while i was hiding behind a book i too wanted a rose. just like everyone else but wasn’t about to lose face in front of rose getting girls.

i wasn’t popular, i didn’t wear a short skirt. and in the looks department, i was average. even average girls would like to know that someone is thinking of her. but looking back on those high school days when i was trying to out grow puberty. i can’t say that i’ve ever really played the LOVE GAME. sorry lady gaga.

i’ve liked many boys and men over the years but i have to admit that i’m xx years old and i have yet to CONFESS my love to anyone. i thought that once you’ve hit twenty one you’d have fallen at least once once in love.

every other girl on valentines day

every other girl on valentines day

nope not me. i always have to be different. like salmon, i swim against the stream.

lets start at the very beginning.

first love: i was six when i first met david. he was fair, had green eyes and black hair. david wasn’t the tallest boy in class but he sure was the prettiest. I think from a very early age it was clear that i was superficial. he was like an angel walking on earth. most girls my age were very open about their feelings and vied for his attention. i chose to play in the sandbox. a few weeks before the school closed, the teacher told the class that david would be moving to a knew town. i was gutted. i couldn’t imagine coming to school and not being able to see him. he hugged every girl, saying goodbye to each of them.  but i was the only one to be kissed on the cheek. that was the first time i knew what it felt like to have my heart skip a beat.  even though i knew i wouldn’t see him again, i couldn’t admit my feelings or give him a proper goodbye.  i wouldn’t say that this is my biggest regret but i think it marked the beginning of my wimp years.

it was many years before i again dared to venture in the rough sea of love. this time i was 11. after my parents divorce. we relocated to a new town and i started going to a new school.  thats when i met sebastian. he had dark brown hair, intense brown almost black eyes, and vampiric canines. on valentines day, i discovered that he was the most popular boy in school. sebastian and his best friend Rob  would compete to see who would get the most love letters. for the entire day they would receive boxes upon boxes of love letters and cards from girls form different grades. rob was far more social than sebastian and friendlier. but it was sebastian’s silent beauty that made him irresistibly alluring. where rob was a flirt, sebastian was indifferent. no one knew who he liked but what i knew for sure is that he hated me.

what was an eleven year old to do when the boy she liked hated her guts and called her cactus butt (reference:lion king. it still doesn’t make sense to me) whenever the opportunity presented itself. there was only one thing left to do. make sure that he knew she hated him right back. when he said that he liked subzero from mortal combat, i’d snort and say subzero was boring. when he bought the latest bomber jacket. i snorted and told him that he looked stupid in it. he’d antagonised me when i played soccer with the boys during lunch, so i kicked the ball in his face. I’m not sure when our hate changed to mutual respect perhaps it was when i score that beautiful goal during a game against the seventh grade boys team or when i let him cheat off my test that time he forgot to study. by the end of primary school, i was closer to him than any other girl in our class. but even then i couldn’t confess. not when he shone so bright and i… well i was just me.

lets fast forward through high school… a time when i spent most of my time reading harry potter and fantasising about orlando bloom. there was only one boy worth mentioning. he wore a speedo during a swimming and that image will forever be burnt into my retina. when my friend tried to introduce him to me… i guess my fear of shaking hands with a speedo wearing god triggered my hypothalamus and sent me running!

not my proudest moment

not my proudest moment

i quickly learnt that in the LOVEGAME, i played to win. i couldn’t handle being around good-looking guys. they made my hypothalamus act up and sent me running for the hills. so i steered clear of anyone who made me react that way. it wasn’t the most mature choice but that was the only way i could survive. to run is to lose. and i planned to win. so i decided to look for guys that had ok-ish faces and seemed interesting enough to date.

the first was an older guy in one of my university classes. he wasn’t  good looking, and was too skinny for my taste. but it was clear by the end of our first year that he wouldn’t mind hooking up me. that relationship dragged on for two more years. both of us not fully committed but too insecure to leave. that was until i met my first boyfriend. he was ok looking. most importantly he was interested in me. and we had crazy sexual chemistry. but there was something missing. i didn’t know what it was but it was there. we broke up after a few months because i cheated on him and he was too embarrassed to introduce me him to his friends. these relationships were bound to end. yes, i wasn’t sitting at home in a towelling gown guzzling down a tub of ice cream. but i felt like at least i’d be able to feel something while watching a drama. instead of passing time in a boring relationship.

there was no passion.

some heavy petting does not count as passion.

love should burn like a fire.

those are famous words said by marianne. i know that marianne in sense and sensibility chased after willoughby and had her heart broken. but didn’t she get her happy ending? she got colonel brandon. (I’m for any ending where you can spend the rest of your life with alan rickman. he looks damn good in black). yes she was stupid for chasing after the wrong guy and making herself so sick that she almost died. but she had balls. falling in love is scary. you are baring your heart and you wont know if the other person will treat it carefully or just trample all over it. i know i don’t have the balls to bare my heart. thus leading to question: did i really win in dating ok guys? what is it to win?

i didn’t date anyone else after them. was it by choice? perhaps. and then i moved to japan. the land where men happily confessed to be hentais and only wanted to date cute girls. coming to japan i found out that its pretty easy to be left the fuck alone. guys are too scared of foreigners. i can only assume it because a) we aren’t as petite as japanese girls or b) they fear speaking english or c) their mating rituals are different from ours. maybe what they classify as wooing looks like the macarena to me. i was fine for a while. but i made one miscalculation. my bucket list…

i have no idea how ‘get a japanese boyfriend’ made it on my list beside ‘see miyajima shrine’, ‘go to a host club’, and ‘pretend to be a samurai in kyoto’. but it was there. after many failed attempts to get japanese guys’ attention. i went back to feigning ignorance. when a lovely man caught my eye.

well, hello!!

well, hello!!

he was funny, and would try to speak to me even though i struggled to speak japanese and his english was nonexistent. i liked how his cheeks would always turn rosy when he tried to speak english. and how he would gush over his niece and show me pictures of her. i liked looking at his broad back and fantastic ass. and that he’d always laugh when i greeted him by just saying ‘yo’ like a high school boy. i just wanted someone to perv on. someone to look forward to seeing but you can fall so easily without even being aware of it. before i knew it, i was dreaming of how he’d hold my hand. where we would go on our first date. and i wondered if he thought i was pretty.

it freaked me out a bit.

my hypothalamus was working in over drive again.

i needed to escape danger.

warning!

warning!

i wanted to run.

i really did but i wanted to get to know him more. i wanted to make him laugh. i wanted to see those cheeks flush every time i’d tease him. (that does sound a bit sadistic) i was over come with greed. a greed i had never known. i wanted it all. is this what it felt like to be IN LOVE? this idea of love almost made me laugh. it was so stupid. these feelings i had felt ridiculous. every time he said my name, my insides would freeze. the old me would say that i lost in this LOVEGAME. i didn’t know what to do with these feelings. i felt like ariel when she first realised that she no longer had a tail but two legs.

how do i use these?

how do i use these?

but before i learnt how to stand, the rug was pulled right out from under me. (sorry for the cheesy pun).

Sebastian, "Just look at her! On legs! On human legs!"

Sebastian, “Just look at her! On legs! On human legs!”

i forgot to ask the most important question before i dove head over heels.

and the answer is: yes.

yes, he has a girlfriend.

of course someone as wonderful as him has a gf. she knew him. he laughed at her jokes. I’m sure his cheeks flushed whenever he looked at her. and she had it all. the way hollywood describes being heartbroken, i thought it would feel more broken. maybe even it would make a weird cracking noise. thats what i thought. my heart didn’t feel broken. more hollow. like there was a gaping hole in my chest where the wind would blow reminding me that nothing was there.

one can’t really describe heartbreak. twilight tried to do it by showing bella sitting at a window as the seasons passed her by.

bella just looks constipated to me

bella just looks constipated to me

i wish heartache felt like that. if any imagery could describe what it feels like to be heartbroken, i would say it felt like being a wounded dog struggling to get up. blood gushing form your chest, as it dragged its battered leg trying to find some place safe to rest. falling out of love does feel like you’re about to die. but every morning you wake up and realise that you’re still alive. one day you wake up and realise that it doesn’t hurt as much. someday in the not so distant future you look across the table and think: why didn’t i notice you before? do i like you? you won’t know. but he presents possibility. it could lead to something wonderful or to a little more heartache. i don’t know how i feel just yet. the important thing is that i am here. a little more battered than before. maybe you will try to be brave and give him handmade chocolates. even though you don’t believe in valentines day.

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I really hate men sometimes …

If you don’t feel like reading some bitch’s rant or hate speech towards men. You should stop reading this post… right now.

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I must confess, I’m not too fond of the male population of late, but tonight was just the pits. So I love to meet some friends for dinner and drinks on a week night, to blow off steam. You na mean? Our conversations vary from work, travels, pop culture and dating.

I’m legally obligated not to be violent. Since your ass will be jailed if you hit or kick anyone, in Japan. But my friend made a comment that  made me almost backhand her. She said and I quote: “I can’t be picky with the guys I choose. I have to take what I can get.”

This just pissed me off. My friend is beautiful, funny and smart. Yes, she’s not a size zero. But fuck, I’m so tired of us (women) allowing society’s (society which is in fact: men) standards of beauty determine how we see ourselves. I want her to know that she is beautiful, and that she should value herself more, and go for the guy she wants. And not the first sleazebag that talks to her. I understand how she feels because I still struggle with this issue as well. Why don’t we as women value ourselves more?

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So this got me thinking…

Why do men get to set the bar of what is hot or not?

Shouldn’t we as women set that bar?

It is our bodies!!!!

Is a size zero really that sexy?

When I developed breasts. Men just felt it was ok to be creepy. I remember an older man that was an uncle of a close friend, just ogling at me.

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How could I ever forget those lust-filled eyes. His wife who was usually nice, began to act dismissive towards me. At that time I thought, so this is what its like to be an adult woman. You lose all sense of logic. Your husband is lusting after a fifteen year old child but instead of giving your husband a firm talking to, and protecting an innocent child, you choose to see that child as a threat. I knew that I didn’t want to grow up to be a woman like that, and I definitely didn’t want to marry a creep.

We need to know that we are worth more than that. I think it’s normal to feel attracted to someone of an appropriate age. And I plan to very much still check out Korean ass when I’m fifty and happily married. But you have to be respectful towards your significant other, and not drool all over yourself in front them. Decorum! You need to act appropriately.

Let’s go back in time. To the exact moment when I started hating myself. At thirteen, what did I know about the world? I was a blank page that thought life would be like the movies. One day, you see the boy of your dreams, magically one night you would confess your feelings, and he’d feel the same way too. You’d kiss and promise to be together forever. You’d graduated from university, and overnight you’d be the CEO of your own very successful company. I didn’t know what the company did, all I knew was that I was well off, and was getting married to the man of my dreams.

Puberty was seriously awkward. I had to accept that blood would be gushing from my vagina once a month. My hormones were all over the place, I would have a break out of zits on the day of the dance. I just started crying for no reason. And at my high school, the guys were real jerks.

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One day while we were writing an essay or doing a worksheet or something. I don’t remember. It was about where we would be in ten years. I remember asking the teacher how to spell ‘fiancé’. And then some boy, I don’t remember his name or his face. Anyway, the little fucker burst out laughing and said, “Like you’d ever have a fiancé!” that was definitely the aha moment for me. It wasn’t a good one. It was the moment that I thought, “Ahh, I’m not pretty. So why would anyone want to marry me?” As I’m typing this post I’m searching my brain for his name, but honestly it’s not coming to me. I hated that boy for five years. I seriously hated him. I didn’t know why I hated him. I just did. And thought that every other male in my high school thought I wasn’t pretty or skinny enough to date.

Ironically, in my final year of high school, we worked backstage on the school play together. Once the play ended. He hooked his arm around my neck, and said to me and the rest of the backstage crew, “Are you ready for the after party?” I was livid. why was this arsehole touching me and acting all friendly, when we were mortal enemies. Then I had another aha moment: he didn’t remember what he said to me all those years ago. Back then, he was a stupid thirteen year old boy that didn’t really understand the gravity of his words. And I was suffering for the last five years for no reason. Instead of suffering, I should’ve just told him then and there while he was laughing at me to fuck off. Or just came up with a witty remark that would’ve made the class laugh at his stupidity.

I wish my mother encouraged me more to confess to boys. Rejection is part of growing up, and maybe back then the guy that I liked, possibly liked me back but I was just too indifferent to realise. But I guess she was too caught up in her divorce to notice that I was seriously fucked up about my body and boys. And I wish my father would’ve told me I was cute. If he did, maybe I would’ve believed it. Since he was the most important man in my life. I’m past my adolescent years where my parents were responsible for my wellbeing, so now I have to take full responsibility.

I’m not sure if my relationship with men got any better in university. I made many male friends. And started dating guys. Some were nice, but a little boring. One guy I used to liked for a while was really wishy washy about dating me and in the end called me a whore. And then there was him: I was in my last year of university sitting in the backseat of my friend’s car, and the guy I liked at that time was sitting beside me. He was a cold guy by nature. But I thought I made a breakthrough. Because he was sitting next to me. And he didn’t look disgusted. So that was a step in the right direction. Suddenly, he turned to face me, and looked me dead in the eyes, and said: “I like flat-chested girls”.

I was gutted. You’re confused, I know. Let me explain, I’m a little or should I say alotta gifted in the breast department. Thus, he was saying indirectly that I was not his type. Back then, young north was naive, cried herself to sleep that night. Not knowing that she had just been wronged. Where have their (men) manners gone? If a girl likes you, and she has yet to confess her feelings. You have no right to reject her. Yes, it might be awkward when she’s being Bella from twilight, breathing heavily in your ear, or watching you from around the corner.

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But as a gentleman you endure. And when she finally gathers her courage, and confesses. As a gentleman, you put her down gently. And lie. Firstly, you thank her for her confession. And tell her that her feelings make you happy. But unfortunately, your heart belongs to another. Why do men need to make us cry? I get that rejection sucks, no matter what you say. But some guys are real douchebags about it.

Talking about douchebags. I think I’ve met the king of all douchebags. I really didn’t want to write about this. But… its time.

One morning while sitting on the curb in front of a konbini in Osaka. This was 8am, and I was eating my breakfast, waiting for my friend who needed to use the loo. A man walked by and looked at me strangely, but I was completely used to people staring at me by now.

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I am a foreigner living in Japan, you know. So I didn’t really pay too much attention to him. After ten minutes he returned. Walking with purpose towards me. He said, in Japanese of course, very enthusiastically that I had large breasts. At that point, I was ready to cut a bitch. This fucker thought it was ok to approach me and disrespect me.

He didn’t stop. I pretended that I didn’t understand Japanese. Then he said in Japanese, “oh, you don’t speak Japanese.” so he changed tactics, he gestured showing that I had large breast. I said no, and tried to shoo him away. Then he said: touch, touch. Suggesting that he’d like to touch my breasts. Shocked, I said no. This guy was persistent, he then said, “Touch me”. I said no. then “suck…suck”. I got the feeling that he learnt a few English words from porn.

“No!”

“Sex?”

“No. just go!”

And so he left.

I don’t know what the fuck was going through that bastard’s mind. Thinking that I’d lie on my back in a cheap hotel with an ass like him. Do men no longer respect women? Or did they just never respect us at all. We are only their whores, baby makers, and are meant to wait for them as they search the streets for their next lay? I was ready to lay my best fighting technique I picked up from street fighter, shoryuken, on him.

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How dare he make me feel so cheap? How dare he not respect me? I was pissed that after believing that I’m so strong, I was so weak in that moment. When I told my friend about it, she said I should’ve given him a taai klap (a slap in the face). I was just shocked that he had the audacity to do what he did out in the open, with so many people watching. Even if I did punch or kick him, I’d probably be convicted for violence, even though it was in self defence. I don’t think I’d ever felt as far from home as I did that day. And yet, I’m not sure if I would’ve reacted any differently back home.

After the ordeal I told one of my Japanese friends, and she confessed that a similar incident happened to her. How many more women are there that have shared our experiences or have had worse done to them? Why was it ok, for men to make you feel dirty and worthless? Women! We need to empower ourselves. We should learn self defence.

And the laws need to be changed. We need to take harassment more seriously. Our governments should punish these individuals that think its ok to harass unwilling participants. And I believe that rapists and child molesters should serve at least twenty years in prison.

Do you understand why I occasionally hate men? I think they’re lovely to look at, but they just know how to piss me off, especially when they suggest women are the weaker sex. We are strong too you know. So what if I’m scared of spiders. There is nothing wrong with preferring not to be within a five meter radius of one. So yes, I would like my father to kill them for me. And now that I live on my own, I have to kill spiders that get in the way of my happiness. I can do it for myself. But do I want to kill spiders? No, I don’t. Would I like someone else to do it for me? Yes, I do. I don’t care if you’re a man, woman or alien. I just hate spiders, and wished they didn’t exist. Does that make me a weak woman, no its makes me human.

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Back to my friend. I hate that she’s beating herself about guys not liking her back but maybe he doesn’t like peas! After crying about some boy my sister gave me some good advice. I didn’t understand it at the time but now being older and a little wiser. It makes more sense. I know that this is a very hard concept to  understand. But just think about it logically. What food don’t you like? Well, I don’t like peas, I can’t stand that shit. And I’m quite relieved that you won’t find that shit in Japanese dishes.

Let’s say that people are food. Maybe to him you are peas. And that has nothing to do with you. He just doesn’t like peas. So whenever the guy I like rejects me, I cry myself to sleep for a few nights, and then I just tell myself that he just doesn’t like peas. And that’s ok. I’m going to wait for someone that likes peas. I don’t want one that’s dreaming of strawberries, when I’m just mushy peas. But if I were a food, I wouldn’t be peas. They taste disgusting. I wouldn’t mind being pumpkin. *drool*. Roasted chicken, and potatoes, with a side of rice, and a dollop of pumpkin. Yum! I miss Sunday lunch.

If I could give advice to young north, I’d say: don’t wear short skirts. If people around you can easily see your knickers. It is too short! What is wrong with wearing a skirt/ dress that is five centimetres above your knee. If you like that short length, wear leggings. They’re both appropriate and fashionable. Why do you need to demean yourself by wearing ridiculously short skirts? For who? Boys? Love yourself more. Laugh more. Be silly. And I’d tell her to be brave. If you like someone, become his friend first. First check if he’s a nice guy. Then, Confess. If you’re rejected, at least you had the balls, unlike most adults, to go for what you want.

Right now, I don’t hate men. I just don’t trust a large faction of them. What I realised is that stupid boys grow up into stupid men. Your happiness should not be wavered by their words. You need to love yourself first. Every morning, stand in front of your mirror, and look at that face looking back at you and truly believe that she (YOU) is beautiful.

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What Would Dumbledore Do?

My chingu and I constantly talk about our love lives, or lack thereof, in Japan. As two single girls, there’s only so long we can go without some “rabu rabu”, especially in a country that’s so culturally defined.

To put you in the loop: in general, foreigners in Japan are usually given a certain amount of attention. No matter how your physical appearance is regarded in the western world, (I’m not sure what South Africa is considered – Western or Southern?) here you will get stared at and/or complimented on your looks frequently. We’re unique and “sugoi” and exotic here. And while it feeds the ego nicely, making you feel like a special little rose full of hope, it rarely goes beyond that for some sad few of us. Compliments in Japan are something I have never taken too personally anyway, because we’re a novelty. And while some of my fellow foreigners are constantly like “OMG you guys my students keep saying how beautiful I am teehee!” I just think dude…get over it.

As mentioned before, we live in the Japanese countryside, and very different parts at that. I’m on an island, which is pretty far from mainland Japan. Because of this, there aren’t usually many young (and by young, I mean people in their twenties) people around. My island is pretty much where people retire, farm, and fish. Their kids school here and leave for a life on the mainland, returning only for vacation time. The ones who remain here get married straight after school and have kids and then take over the family fishing business.

Anyway, for a twenty-something year old foreigner with minimal Japanese language ability in the inaka, dating prospects are pretty bleak. Every foreigner has been asked the question “do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?” numerous times. This is the timeline of my “do you have a boyfriend?” conversations.

1. When I first got here

Japanese person: Do you have a boyfriend?

Me: No, haha.

JP: Oh really? Why?

Me: I don’t really want one…

JP: Waa- sugee!

Me: haha hoohoo! [Feels like an empowered female!]

2. Middle of the year

JP: Do you have a boyfriend?

Me: No

JP: Why?

Me: I donno

3. Now, Scenario #1

JP: Is [gay guy I hang out with] your boyfriend?

Me: NO!!

JP: [hehe, they’re so cute, pretending they aren’t in wuv]

4. Now, Scenario #2

JP: Do you have a boyfriend?

Me: No.

JP: Why?

Me: Cos no one likes me, okay?? GOSH [Resumes putting beer cans in shopping trolley].

I’m not going to make this a blog post about how unfair it is that foreign males have an easier time dating here than girls, blah blah. I’ve Googled this topic until my computer overheated, and there are loads of articles on this subject. It’s hard to talk about without sounding bitter, and it’s pretty controversial, so I’m skipping ahead to Conversations with my Chingu (soon to be a paperback – check the Spiritual section of your local bookstore. Haha, jk).

So, we’re constantly talking about how lonely we are and how we’d like someone to have a decent relationship with (or whatever) and not just drunkenly saying “you are so beautiful!” and passing out. After realizing that this is extremely frustrating, and looking to the wise Dumbledore for guidance, we’ve come up with our Gayly Plan.

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Dumbledore knows.

My chingu’s patience was cracking and she admitted that she was pissed off with guys in general. “I’m giving up!” she said. “Over it!” So we agreed to support each other. Sisterhood and all FTW.

You know how some closeted gay people are forced to pretend they’re straight to fit into society in order to survive? Our plan is pretty much the opposite. We wanted to be gay. Although our version of “gay” might be a little warped, and I’m sincerely sorry if I do offend gay people in this post.

*(Side note: I’m pretty much a supporter of gay rights; I actually have more gay friends than straight friends and I know this doesn’t really justify anything… but they’re pretty much amused by this whole thing).

The Gayly Plan is basically an acceptance of our current situation by exploring other options. So far the plan consists of changing the little things that we are in a habit of doing which reinforces how deprived we are. Things like not looking at pictures of handsome k-pop stars (this is HARD, yo!). Refraining from staring at a cute guy as if he were a chocolate cake and we’ve been starving for a week. This is all very creepy.

However, we seem to be lacking the actual dating other girls part. It’s day two of our Gayly Plan and things aren’t looking very good. If getting a boyfriend in Japan is so difficult, what makes us think we’re going to get girlfriends in our towns? What the hell, man! We’ve already relapsed by “accidentally” finding pictures of our favourite Korean rappers.

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This just popped up on our Google image search. Really…

On a serious note, we’ve realized how bloody awful it must be for some gay people to constantly have to pretend they’re straight, or feign interest in the opposite sex. Living a lie is ridiculous and goes against the natural order of things. Respect.