History, New Orleans, and World War II

The semester is almost done!  I couldn’t be happier.  Tomorrow I’m turning in my final paper for my World History Research Seminar, and after that I have two final papers and that’s it (also two ten-minute and fifteen-minute presentations on them).

This evening was the last meeting of the semester for our PAT chapter.  At the closing of the meeting we discussed the 2018 Biennial which will be hosted in New Orleans.  The 2016 Biennial was at Disneyland but it came at the beginning of my graduating semester, so months before my senior thesis would be completed.  I’m in better shape now to speak at a conference, and the pres said that they may be working on a World War II panel at the Biennial and my heart leaped when he said that.  They especially want Asia/Pacific content, which is what my recent research has been on.  I haven’t presented at any conferences yet so I know that’s something I need to start doing.  I’m hoping I don’t lose the courage to apply when the application deadline actually rolls around (October).

I’ve also started interning at a historic site near my neighborhood.  I’m part of the education team and I just do research for program content and will be given to choice to work with school groups that come to the park or to go to school visits (I’m going on one next Thursday to a private school near my university).  Right now my current homework is to do primary source research, looking at the Japanese perspective on Pearl Harbor and plantation immigration.  Things are going great. 🙂

Marching Along…

It’s March 31st and I have roughly one month left of school before my final papers are due.  This semester has been extremely stressful and I cannot wait for it to be over.  Since both of my history advisors are off island, I sought solace from academic life in my past Religion professor who basically told me that it’s okay to tack an extra year on to my MA program if it means less stress, especially if I already have a job — even one irrelevant to my academic interests — since I won’t necessarily need my degree to get a job at the moment.  I currently work twenty four hours per week, but he said with a full graduate load, I should not exceed sixteen (this is impossible if I want to continue to feed myself and pay my bills).

As much as I love my job, I’m starting to feel differently about it.  I love my coworkers the most, and when I really think about it, I would not want to continue to work at my current workplace if they were to leave or retire.  I’m basically there because of the emotional attachments I’ve formed.  That being said, when two education coordinators from a National Park Service site came to speak to my Museum Studies class last week, I casually asked the director if they ever take on interns (a mandatory internship is part of the MS program).  To my surprise, he said he would work something out with me and gave me his phone number.  We met today over coffee and he basically told me that he’d have me shadow twice — once at the site and once to a school visit — and after that, would work out a pay for me and start me off at eight to ten hours per week and increase it as we go.  He asked what kind of pay I’d be comfortable with and I gave the pay I currently receive, and he laughed and said they’d pay me a few dollars more per hour, as they won’t make me work for free.  I love my workplace, but I do work for love, not money there.  I’m really excited and I hope it pulls through.  I’d be working with students, elementary through high school, and teachers, both at the site and in classrooms and also conducting research at the State Archives and other sites for program content.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed until he calls me back next week to finalize everything…

Back Home in Beautiful Hawai’i Nei

I’ve been home for about a month and a half now!  I’ve been back at work since December 12th, and tomorrow — Friday — wraps up my second week of school.

I miss Delhi a lot.  More than things like the pani puri, metro, rickshaw rides, phalwalas, etc., I miss my host family and my friends.  Since I’ve been home my host family has called me three times, just to say hello.  I talk to my two good friends quite regularly.  One of them went home shortly after I left (that is, to Manipur) and I didn’t talk to him once while he was gone; turns out, there was some upheaval in Manipur during the time so the state blocked the Internet and all SMSs, allowing only phone calls (we talk through WhatsApp).  I figured he was busy with his family, but as soon as he got back to Delhi, he explained what had been going on and why he hadn’t talked to me in so long.  I really hope my host family and friends can make it out to Hawaii one day; I’d love to show them around and introduce them to novel foods and all that fun stuff.  Delhi was easily one of the best experiences of my life, if not the best. I learned a lot about myself there.

School is hard.  The MA program in Delhi was really different (though, my advisor did warn me about this).  In India there is the BA, MA, MPhil, and finally PhD; as a result, my MA program there was basically an extension of a BA program, which, despite collecting a wealth of knowledge while I was in India from my classes at Ambedkar that I can’t access in Hawaii, it hurt me because I am currently having a hard time adjusting to my work load for my MA program at my home university.  I’m sure I’ll balance everything in out by the end of next week.

I’m enrolled in two Museum Studies courses (Museums & Education and Public History & Commemoration; I find the latter far more interesting), a World History seminar, and third-year Hindi.  So far, quite honestly, Hindi is giving me the hardest time.  While I was in India, I did not hone my Hindi very much.  My listening improved by leaps and bounds, but my speaking really took a blow because I was always listening, but very rarely speaking.  Since the two good friends I made were from Manipur, they only spoke Hindi when they absolutely needed to; my host family only spoke to me in Hindi occasionally (I understand that it must have been difficult to bring their Hindi down to my amateur level).  Very few of my classmates knew that I could understand and speak Hindi, so they never spoke to me in Hindi (and this was not something I bragged about, just in case they did attempt to speak to me and I couldn’t understand).  As a result, I’m struggling in class, especially since I have not formally learned Hindi since last May.  It doesn’t help that I don’t like the TA.  She’s another linguistics scholar from JNU, but she’s different from the other two we had; to me she’s a bit condescending, as if she can’t quite understand why my Hindi isn’t as fluent as one of my other classmates (a Second Language Studies graduate student who taught English in Chennai).  She’s also laughed at my mistakes, which is something I don’t think an instructor should do, and which I took very personally and resented.  The other two TAs would laugh when I’d make silly mistakes, but they’d never blatantly laugh at a mistake I made purely as a result of a cognitive struggle.  I was contemplating dropping the class altogether but this is already the home stretch for me; I’m in Hindi 302 and 302 is the last of the sequence and I know I’d regret giving up just because I don’t like my TA.  I’m not quite sure why my professor isn’t teaching my class since she’s no longer on sabbatical.  My Hindi class is adding unnecessary work to my already heavy workload (I only need four semesters of a language for my degree) but I want to keep learning it because: 1) I genuinely enjoy learning languages, and 2) Out of spite, I want to do well and “stick it” to my TA.  Oh, and since it’s a 300-level course, the course is taught entirely in Hindi which makes it even more difficult for me.

Anyway, I’m happy to be home but I really miss everyone in Delhi.  I think of my friends daily.  Both of them called me while I was waiting for my flight at the airport and I cried at the gate talking to my friend on the phone, the stranger awkwardly sitting across me trying to avoid eye contact (haha).  But my friend and I had all the same courses, and we’d ride the metro home together every day after school (I’d get off at Rajiv Chowk and he’d continue to Hauz Khas).  On December 1st, I slept over at his house and we made typical Manipuri food for dinner with his sister and cousins.  The next day he took me on a whirlwind Delhi tour since I had done 0 sightseeing the entire time I was in Delhi; we went to the Red Fort and Qutab Minar.  We tried to get to the Lotus Temple but we missed it by ten minutes.  Driving me home, I asked to go to India Gate but the lights were off (it was about 7:00pm) to show respect for attacks that had occurred in Kashmir.  I went home the next day but I managed to go to one of his Church functions a few hours before my flight.  I surely did leave a big chunk of my dil in Dilli.

4th India International Tattoo Convention

I went to the convention today and yesterday.  The convention was in Faridabad Sector 12 and ran from November 11th – 13th.

I had met my artist twice in the studio in Gurgaon and ended up doing my tattoo at the convention, especially considering that I had never been to a tattoo convention before despite Hawaii holding one every year in August.  I designed my tattoo and my artist, Raju of Funky Monkey, polished it off and added a sacred geometry backdrop.  The main focus of my tattoo is my two dogs, Logan and Myron.  I’ve been toying with the idea of a dog tattoo for a while despite everyone telling me not to do it.  Sure it’s a commitment, but I love my dogs very much and love for a dog is completely different than for that of another human.  First, a dog will never hurt you the way a human will, so that’s reason enough for me!  I think dogs are just magical creatures that deserve to live forever in a garden full of dog treats and an ever-flowing river of gravy.  Anyway, so my tattoo is based around their faces, and they are surrounded by five hibiscus flowers, each representing a member of my family.  I picked the hibiscus because throughout my time in India, whenever I saw a hibiscus, I thought of home.  The flower will be a joint reminder of home and my extended time away from it.  I also have the phrase “Jahan dil hai, vahan ghar hai” in devanagari, which is a loose translation of “Home is where the heart is,” literally “Where the heart is, there is home.”  This tattoo is special to me because it’s the first tattoo I’ve ever really conceptualized and designed myself, and it’s very meaningful to me.  I love my dogs of course, but I also really love my family more than anything else in this entire world and it’s about time I do the Hawaii thing and get an ‘ohana-themed tattoo.  I think it’s also fitting that the tattoo ended up covering a keloid I have as a result of self-harm (which hurt terribly; tattoo over scar tissue is a pain) We finished the outline for the tattoo yesterday which took about 3.5 – 4 hours.  We just need to color in the flowers and tattoo Logan and Myron’s faces and we’re done.  Raju estimated about another four hours or so, especially since he wants to add dotwork to the geometry filler.

I really loved Raju as an artist; he really listened to what I wanted and he was so light handed.  My tattoo did not hurt at all until he reached a small part of the ribbon that dipped into my armpit.  Other than that, no pain whatsoever!  If you’re in Delhi, I’d definitely recommend Raju at Funk Monkey, or just Funky Monkey in general.  They are located in DLF City Centre Gurgaon, second floor.  I was initially going to go to Devil’z Tattooz in Greater Kailash but ended up at Funky Monkey through  recommendation (a friend of a friend recently got a tattoo done there and used to work there).  A recommendation is always better than Internet searches, I think.  Devil’z Tattooz was also at the convention.

As I was waiting for Raju to prep my tattoo, I dangerously strolled around the convention (I say “dangerously” because with so many tattoo artists staring you in the face, it’s hard not to get another, and another, and another…) and found myself looking at a bunch of cute traditional-style flash tattoos.  I flipped through the portfolio and decided, “I’d love if this guy did my peonies!”  Just then, one of the artists came up to me and said “Hi, you lookin’ to get tattooed?”  This was Alex from Kids Love Ink in London.  I told him what I wanted and he took a look at my arm and said he could draw something up for me overnight.  The only issue here was that I did not have any money considering that PM Modi thought it would be a great idea to demonetize all 500 and 1,000 bills overnight.  Luckily, Alex said I could pay him through PayPal, which worked out perfectly.  So I went home, slept excitedly, and went back to Faridabad today for my peony piece with Alex.  This piece took about 2.5 – 3 hours.  Alex, just like Raju, was a great conversationalist and the time flew by.  There was another artist from the shop there with him who started a tattoo just about halfway through mine.  Alex’s style is traditional, and he enjoys doing floral and animal pieces.

It’s always important for me to get along well with my artist because I do not want someone who is going to affect my body forever to be someone whom I do not like or am indifferent about.  I’ve always been lucky with my artists in this regard; they’ve usually always been nice, funny, and witty.  Alex and his shopmates are actually the first Brits I’ve ever met, so that was fun for me (and my suspicions have been confirmed — America is the butt of the joke most of the time).

I’ll also digress (maybe) for a bit: I think it’s important for your artist to enjoy what they are doing just as much as you should enjoy what you are receiving.  While Alex was doing my tattoo, we (him, his shopmate, and myself) began to discuss the differences in tattoo culture between India and America/England and one of the things we noticed that most was that India is very into realism (photorealistic tattoos).  It takes immense talent to do things like that, but that isn’t my taste.  I’m more in the traditional line, fawning over bold outlines and subtle colors.  But a lot of the people at the convention were getting photorealistic tattoos done, and from people who did not do photorealistic tattoos (judging by their portfolios).  For example, Alex’s shopmate also does traditional but ended up doing a tribal-style tattoo with devanagari.  Personally, that did not make sense to me since there was another artist from Italy who did specialize in tribal tattoos (really amazing, Tribal Tattoo Torino) and many other India-based artists who could to both the tribal design as well as the devanagari.  I picked Alex because I saw his portfolio and it matched what I wanted; when I went to Funky Monkey, Raju was called out into the shop to consult with me and as I talked to him during my tattoo, said he enjoys doing the type of tattoo I wanted to have done.  My point is that although an artist does tattoos, there is often something they enjoy doing over all else, and I think it’s fair to go to the appropriate artist for a certain type of tattoo.  You don’t go to a cardiologist for nephrological issues.  Also, be respectful and do not try to get another artist to duplicate someone else’s work…while we were doing my tattoo, a man asked to take Alex’s portfolio to the booth across the walkway to which he said, “No, that has to stay here.  They can come here” and he really did want to get one of Alex’s works duplicated by the other artist.  That’s bad tattoo etiquette if I’ve ever seen it!  I’ve also noticed that Indian tattoo culture is based off of duplication; it isn’t so much custom tattoos, but portraits, celebrities’ tattoos, or images pulled off of the internet.

Anyway, I spent half a lakh on tattoos over the weekend.  My host family said the 35,000 FM charged me was too much since the girl who stayed with them last year got a very intricate tattoo for 17,000, but I said, “Well you said her tattoo was done in Paharganj, right?” which it was.  FM has a good reputation and is a well-known shop.  I’m willing to pay for that when it comes to something like a tattoo that can adversely affect my health if not done by the best people in the best conditions.  I’m used to spending in that neighborhood for tattoos, anyway (I only go to upscale, nice shops; I’m a snob about this and would never get a tattoo in Paharganj).  I don’t mind paying a lot for a tattoo because it’s something that will last forever, and what’s a hefty price tag for a beautiful piece of artwork on your skin and someone’s talent?

In two weeks I will be heading back to Gurgaon to finish off my tattoo, and Raju said he’ll also be drafting something up (geometric floral dotwork) to fill the gap between my shisa and the tattoo he’s working on.  As much as I do love tattoos, I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to cover that much of my body quite yet.  We’ll see when I get there.


PS. My fiancé does not like tattoos at all.  He said that to him they are “uglier than cellulite” and I did cheesily retort, “Well it’s my body, so…”  I love tattoos and this weekend confirmed it.  I love sitting there and seeing ink being put into my skin, and I’ve grown to love the hum of the machines.  The tattooed community is also amazing in general and everyone at the convention was so friendly and curious about everyone’s tattoos.  People frequently ask me two things concerning my tattoos: “How will you get a job?” and “What will you look like when you’re older, though?”  Aside from the medical and teaching fields, I’m not sure how much more conservative a job can get than where I work right now — a credit union.  How do my gross, offensive, criminal, unsophisticated tattoos go undetected at work?  Because I wear clothes.  I wear long sleeves (or a light cardigan if I wear a short sleeve/sleeveless blouse) and slacks; it’s as simple as that.  As far as what I will look like when I get older, I will look like an adorable old Japanese obaachan with tattoos who may or may not have yakuza ties.  What if my children want them?  They can get them.  My mom has had tattoos for as long as I can remember and I always admired them.  She doesn’t like the way I do my tattoos, but she never tells me that I cannot get them (unlike with facial piercings).  I think tattoos are beautiful, and if you don’t like them, that’s your deal.  We realize that what we’ve done is pretty much permanent.  We do not regret them and most people love their tattoos to bits, but what makes you think it’s okay to point out how unseemly, unprofessional, unsophisticated, unbecoming, or what have you, these pieces of us are?

2016 Presidential Election

I am proud to be an American and I’m happy to be an American, and I know I am lucky to be an American.  I’m greatly privileged for just having been born in America.  But I am so saddened by the fact that we’ve pretty much elected an intolerant, Islamophobic, misogynistic bigot for President.  We have made so much progress in the last century as a country, and Trump + Pence will – if not bring it to ruin – take us back to the 1950s where women had no control over their own bodies and those with non-heterosexual preferences lived in fear and even great inequality.  It’s 2016…how did this happen?

How to Join Our Team!

Prior to leaving India, I had a job.  A very good one at that.  My official title was “Office Assistant.”  I was hired barely six months after I graduated high school.  I started out in the Marketing Department and was moved to Loans where I worked for the next four and a half years.  In May I was moved again to the New Accounts department, which I was not happy about.  It isn’t that I don’t like that department (I like the people in that department) but I don’t like the work there.  I grew to love everyone in the Loan department and I didn’t mind the work there.  New Accounts work – because I wasn’t fully trained – was monotonous.  I was never truly really fully trained for anything because I’m a part-time employee and everyone knows I plan on leaving eventually. The President frequently tells me that I will have a full-time job the moment I say I want one.  I just graduated college in May so I think he was hoping I’d choose to commit myself fully, but instead I left for India and started my Master’s program.  He said a position would still be open for me if I decided to come back (I think we both knew it was “when,” not “if”).

I go home in less than a month, and a week ago I wrote to the VP of HR asking about how it looked for me.  She said she’d get back to me when she had a definitive answer about my placement.

I have this job because of my mom.  She has been working there since 2004 and has climbed the ladder to Branch Manager.  At the time I was hired, the Pres. asked my mom what I was doing since I had graduated high school not too long ago.  He asked her this two weeks after I quit my first and worst job without another one lined up.  I applied and interviewed at Macy’s and David’s Bridal.  I didn’t get past an initial interview at Macy’s because I wasn’t willing to miss class for work.  At DB, I made it past the initial group interview and to a second individual one but didn’t make the cut because I didn’t have any commission experience.  So, I had no job and doubted my decision to quit my job even though I hated it with every fiber of my being.  Then one night, my mom said, “How would you like to work with us?  He said you would be put into Marketing as an assistant, working on news letters and things like that.  Just show up every day and do your best, don’t embarrass me!”  I’ve been so thankful for my job ever since.

At first, I was uncomfortable being around 60+ people on a daily basis, especially since they were so much older than me (even now, I believe only one or two people are younger than me).  Since my mom had been working there for eight years at this point, I had met a handful of people on a few occasions but regardless of whether they’d met me prior, I was treated as her daughter and that bothered me.  After about two or three years working, people really started to interact with me forgetting that I was another co-worker’s daughter.  I became my own person there, I suppose.  I really love some of my co-workers.  Real love, the way you love family and friends.  They’re my second family, and I love that everyone at my work place refers to everyone else as family.  I’m particularly close to a handful of people, and before I left, a bunch of my co-workers gave me envelopes with cards and money totaling roughly $250 – $300.  From co-workers!  One hugged me on my last day of work and we looked at each other and both had tears in our eyes.  Another one avoided me the day before I left (I went in to drop off donuts and goodies for my departments) because she was sad and didn’t want to see me and cry (I would have cried if I said bye or hugged her, quite honestly).  I almost cried when I said goodbye to the VP of HR because she sounded like she was going to cry when she told me to have fun but that I needed to come back to them.  I almost cried when my “surrogate dad” (as my mom calls him) hugged me as I got into the elevator.  <- That co-worker is one of my absolute favorites.  He’s extremely sarcastic with a biting wit and is the “house chef.”  He bakes fresh bread on Fridays and often serves it with homemade tapenade or pesto, and others will bring assortments of cold cuts and cheeses  for us to snack on since Fridays we work 8:30am – 6:15pm.  He taught me how to bake no-knead bread and mochi.  Some days I’d get to work and he would have prepared breakfast for me, whether eggs or a full breakfast burrito.  Since I’m a poor college student and often eat sad, small lunches, he’ll often offer to cook lunch for me as he makes his own, or he’ll tell me to sit with him and share whatever he has (he’s a wonderful, wonderful cook).  He told me he’d look forward to seeing me when I come home, unless I meet a “rich, handsome, Indian prince” and decide to stay.  In retrospect, I think we all acted a bit silly since everyone knew I wasn’t quitting, but I guess going from seeing people five days a week to not at all for over four months is a drastic shift.

I’m lucky to work with people that evoke those kinds of emotions.  I’ve never once dreaded going to work because I didn’t want to be there.  There were days I didn’t want to go to work because I had a lot of homework or because I was sick, but never because I didn’t want to be there.  I’ve always been happy at work because I work for a wonderful company.  It isn’t even the gifts or parties we get.  On Christmas and New Year’s Eve we close half-day and everyone from the other branches will come to our branch (the main branch) and we’ll have lunch and play games.  At the end, everyone exchanges drawn-out hugs, wishes safe drives home, and says their goodbyes until the next day of work.  So many people have 20+ years of service.  So many people dedicating that much of their lives to our company is obviously a good sign.  Some have 40+ years.  I honestly cannot wait to go back to them in December, and I’ve thought about my co-workers regularly while in India.  I even brought with me photos from our employee party just days before I left for India.  The country club was serving endless mimosas so my face is red in all of the photos.

I’m thinking about this because this morning, I woke up to a message from my co-worker asking if I’d want to participate in the Loan Department Secret Santa.  I’m technically no longer part of that department, but it made me even more happy that they still want me to participate in their reindeer games (they even threw a potluck for me before I left). Of course I said yes.  I told HR to also put my name into the company-wide Secret Santa too.  The holidays are great at my work place.  HR will go around dressed up as elves and one male co-worker will always dress up as Santa (one year, someone from Sales – a man – dressed up as Mrs. Claus and distributed gifts) and pass out gifts.  It’s that everyone I work with is happy that makes it a good place.  HR and the appropriate managers who conduct interviews and do the hiring really take into consideration both background and their individual personality.  Everyone I work with meshes together so well, and that’s what makes my work place less of a building where we all come to do work, and more of a big, warm house full of laughter and love.  Seriously: my mom works on the first floor and I can hear her laughing from the second floor; the VP of HR and one of the loan officers have laughs so loud that you can hear them from the other end of the building (and they’re always laughing about something, trust me); members in the lobby will often laugh and ask what’s so funny when they can hear everyone laughing from the lunch room.  I’m an extremely lucky girl to have that kind of work environment.  Most days it doesn’t even feel like I’m going to work – I just feel like I’m going to a home away from home.

Roommate Schroommate

I constantly find myself reminding myself – through my teeth – that living with the girl who is my roommate here in Delhi is worth the $5,000 scholarship I got.  Barely.

The house is big, and we rarely see each other but when we do, I want to shoot myself.  She’s very nice and friendly, but I just cannot stand her and the friendlier she is to me and the enthusiasm with which she talks to me about things just makes me more and more irritated and less and less interested in talking to her.  There are some personalities with which I just cannot mix.

She has habits that irritate me.  For one, I buy my own produce here.  I buy bananas every week for shakes and my oatmeal, and I buy at least 2kgs of apples a week for snacks, oatmeal, and shakes.  She eats them.  Today, she reached for my last apple and made a comment about how big the apple was, so I said “Yeah I know, when I bought them I wanted the small ones but he only had those, so I just bought them” and she said, “Yeah I like the smaller ones more.  This one is so big…I only want half.  I just need to force myself to eat the rest of it I guess” and I just sat there thinking, “Okay Jacie well your plan totally back fired and she either doesn’t care that you bought those apples or she has selective hearing.”  That was my last apple and now I don’t have any for my post-gym shake tomorrow or for my morning oatmeal.  I’ve seen her buy produce twice, but even then she’ll only buy a small bunch of bananas or two to three apples for herself.  My friend told me to just hide the produce in my closet.  I’m considering it.

I’m also very protective of my pens (like, irrationally so).  I was doing homework in the living room on our floor and laid my pen down next to my notebooks.  When I came back from dinner, I found my highlighter but not my pen.  I moved everything on the table looking for it and I looked under the table as well.  My roommate looked at me and saw me looking for something, and I glanced at her and noticed she had my pen.  Being Asian and stereotypically soft-spoken, I did not say anything about it.  “Maybe you’re just assuming it’s your pen,” I thought.  This morning when I went back outside, I found that my pen was indeed with her things on the table.  This upset me more because I label all of my pens.  That particular pen had my middle name in it in kanji, and I know she does not know kanji and knew that it was not her pen.  It bothers me because I do not touch or use peoples’ things without their permission, so it bothers me when people use my things.  Especially someone I can already barely stand.

She also doesn’t flush the toilet (“If it’s yellow, let it mellow”).  And she also frequently forgets to turn the water heater off so when it’s my turn to take a shower, there is barely any hot water.

I go home in less than a month now, and I will be glad to never see her again.

Oh, baby!

My ex-boyfriend is going to have a baby.  I didn’t know that he was going to have a baby until my fiancé asked after he saw a picture of his (my ex-boyfriend’s) girlfriend, in which she appeared to be holding a baby bump.  I’ve turned post notifications on for my ex on Instagram but somewhere between school, eating, sleeping, gyming, and now, anime-ing, I missed three photos of his girlfriend getting slightly bigger.  I saw one but thought she was just picking up weight (not in a mean way!  She’s really cute!  I just wouldn’t expect her to be pregnant).

I congratulated him and he said he wanted to talk to me about it when I got home.  For a split second, I thought “that could have been me.”  I don’t know why I even thought that.  I don’t want children soon and in fact, that would be one of the worst things that could happen to me right now.  But in all of his photos, his girlfriend looks so happy holding her stomach and she really has that pregnant glow (she’s six months pregnant).  I’m genuinely happy for them and I can’t wait to see their baby.

I guess I’m just realizing that we’re really going our separate ways now.  And he’s solidifying it way more than I am with this baby (versus an engagement ring).

His girlfriend likes to do similar things.  One of our favorite things to do was drive around the island.  We used to do that a lot.  One morning, he picked me up at 6:00am and we drove around the island.  We used to drive around the island at night singing our favorite songs.  He posts videos and photos of them driving around the island, passing and stopping at some of my favorite spots on the island.

I’m genuinely happy for him, I really am.  I’m not saying it over and over to try to convince myself, but because I know it doesn’t seem like I am.  I’m sad that I’m losing my confidant and that we’re really, completely leaving each other behind now.  I never once thought I’d leave my fiancé for him, but when I say “leave behind,” what I mean is that we can no longer have the same relationship, I guess.  We can’t randomly meet up and go to a place we used to frequent while we were dating, I can’t call him crying or message him at 1:00am because I’m sad, we can’t tell each other how special we’ll always be to one another even though we’re in serious relationships with people we truly love.  It’s a weird feeling.  This is someone I’ve dealt with since I was 15 years old.  I’m 23 now.  We dated, then didn’t talk for three years (on my part because I was mad) and after we finally started talking again, it was like nothing had changed.  And I’m sad that I’m losing that.  I almost feel like I’m losing part of myself.

But enough of being selfish.  I always tell him I want him to be happy, and I really do.  And I really mean it when I say that I am happy for him.  They’re both good looking people so their baby will be cute.  Japanese-Korean kids are always really cute anyway (but if I remember correctly he’s also Hawaiian, Spanish, and Chinese).

Vegan Superpowers

About a month ago (a few days over a month, to be more precise) I went to Old Delhi with friends for a day out.  We went to Jama Masjid and had lunch at Al Jawahar.  For lunch we ordered naan, chicken saag, and mutton curry.  My friend’s friend’s girlfriend is a vegetarian and didn’t eat anything.  I thought it was a bit rude that her boyfriend didn’t concede and order a vegetarian dish!  I said to take what I wanted off the order (saag) and order a vegetarian dish but they didn’t want to.  So we had the saag, curry, and naan.  Shortly after lunch, we walked around looking for dessert (shahi tukda – so delicious) and had to walk through all of the small, meandering walkways.  This was around Eid so there were a lot of goats around.  As we walked back to the metro, the girl with us was beginning to feel more and more disgusted with all of the goats, all of the meat being handled out in the open.  Right after she made a comment about the smell of meat, we walked past a small store front that had two freshly decapitated goats heads on the table.  Mouths open, eyes open, still bleeding.  We had just eaten mutton about fifteen minutes ago (my host family and friends were telling me that while mutton is sheep, a lot of restaurants use goat; the point is that I possibly ate a goat then saw a dead goat head less than an hour later) and this, of course, made my insides feel all thrown out of whack.

I’m not sure why this bothered me so much.  On New Year’s at my dad’s family’s lunch, we always have a full roast pig (with the head still on) and my uncle will carve it and give me the roasted skin as he cuts away.  I love it and it’s my favorite dish on New Year’s.  I see this every year and never cringe.  At one of my favorite restaurants back home I frequently eat fried baby shrimp and fried baby octopus — bodies still completely in tact — and have no problem seeing the shrimps’ fried eyes as I put it in my mouth.  One of my favorite dishes from an omakase (course picked by the chef) my fiancé and I had back home was “live” lobster sashimi, in which the lobster tail is torn off and the meat taken out and diced up, then put back into the shell to be served.  The lobster isn’t actually still alive at the time of serving, but its nerves are still active so the lobster is still moving as you eat the meat (after the sashimi is eaten, the rest of the lobster is made into a miso soup that’s served at the end of the meal).  But seeing the head, perhaps still bleeding and covered in fur, bothered me most?  It’s also unsettling to see chickens being shoved into cages, wings and necks contorted, trying to make themselves comfortable in a cage they will never find comfort in.

But anyway, since then I’ve eaten meat twice, but because I had no other option for dinner.  It was in Meghalaya – A and his friend made dinner but made chicken, though A knew I was already on this pseudo-vegetarian kick (he was with me in Old Delhi that day).  But other than that, I haven’t eaten meat.  I barely even ate the chicken then, but A kept telling me to eat more which irritated me since he had already fudged our trip and was then making me eat something he knew I was trying to avoid.  I’d say no and he’d put more on my plate anyway.  I’m still upset with him, haha.  Anyway…later throughout our trip any time A would eat meat – even fish – I would just internally cringe.  I don’t know why the flip in my head was so drastic after the goat heads but it was and even watching people eat meat now makes me feel weird.  I was a vegetarian in high school but that was for other reasons, namely to lose weight and because it was trendy and uncommon among students in my high school…it lasted about two years.

I’ve also inevitably considered going vegan when I go home and will have full control over my diet.  Here in India, I take my meals at home with my host family most of the time unless I’m in school (lunch), and though they have chicken maybe once every five or six weeks, they consume a lot of animal products and I don’t want to seem rude and reject food that is freshly prepared every evening.  When I go home, I’ll have the power to choose fully with what I stock my fridge and pantries, so I plan to attempt veganism when I go home.  I love eggs, milk, and yogurt, but consuming the milk of a cow is basically the same as consuming its flesh, considering how cows for meat and dairy are both treated.  I relentlessly make fun of vegans so my fiancé and friends had jokes for me when I said I was considering it, but I make fun of vegans that don’t shut up about being vegans, the ones who talk about vegan pastries, vegan makeup, vegan shampoo, vegan air, vegan water, etc.  You get my point.  The vegans I personally know and am friends with are not like this, and I am thankful for that.

So, does anyone have any tips, I guess, about starting a vegan diet?  I don’t eat a lot of meat to begin with so I know adopting a vegetarian diet won’t be difficult for me; the only real challenge will be sushi and sashimi.  I do, however, consume a lot of eggs, yogurt, and milk, and know that that change will be far more difficult.  I also foresee running out of energy and/or patience checking ingredients to make sure I’m not consuming some animal byproduct…but I’d still like to attempt it.  So please, do give me any tips you have!  Thank you!

Jamie All Over

When I was in high school, I dated a guy, “M.”  I was fifteen and he was nineteen (the age of consent in my state made this okay, okay!)  Being fifteen and in high school (and a naughty, slacker high school student, at that) my parents would not approve of me dating, and never of someone so much older than me (this is funny now because my fiancé is 11 years my senior and my mom loves him probably more than she loves me).  Anyway, we dated “officially” for one month, between January and February of 2009.  We had, however, had feelings for each other since the October prior, the month I turned fifteen.  On my birthday he and his friend took me to Tantalus, a popular late-night spot in town (it’s a neighborhood/area going up a mountain; young people go there to race, drift, etc.).  and sang me happy birthday.  I remember this clearly.  That was my first time there, and it’s somewhere I frequent with my fiancé (because he’s into drifting), friends, and my dogs.

At the time that we met, he had a girlfriend, “L.”  They dated until January.  I’m sure you can piece together what happens.  After he finally broke up with her, her friends would constantly call him and ask, “What does she have that —- doesn’t?” and he would make a face, give some sarcastic remark, and hang up.  She constantly badgered him – and rightfully so, having had her boyfriend stolen by a fifteen-year-old – and this, of course, made me paranoid.  This is where I think my “crazy” girlfriend streak comes from.  I always had it in the back of my mind that he didn’t fully choose me over her, so I would read his private comments on MySpace (you know, URL tricks) and I had found that they were talking when he said they weren’t.  They weren’t speaking romantically, but just simply catching up.  Still, at fifteen, this was terrible to me and I shut him out completely.

Our song was “Jamie All Over” by Mayday Parade.  If you were to ask me how this became our song, I don’t completely remember, but anytime I hear it, I think of him.  I couldn’t listen to Mayday Parade for about two years because it just made me feel off.  I carried this anger around with me for years, having felt betrayed by someone I felt loved me.  We would lie in bed and he would say such sweet things to me, the sweetest being, “You’ve been to a place in my heart that no one else has.”  I remember this very clearly, too.  I remember our first real kiss in the rain under a street lamp, and my fiancé and I run past this street lamp whenever we go running in our neighborhood.

For three years I did not talk to M.  A year after we broke up, I went to Paris on a class trip with my French class.  He didn’t know the exact date of my departure, but he left roses and a letter on my doorstep.  He knew this information because he kept in touch with my aunt (this is how we met, through her).  My mother found these and surprisingly informed me and did not throw them away (she found him in my bedroom once, hidden in my closet; this prompted a huge fight between us and resulted in her kicking me out for two months and making me live with my dad).  I told her I did not care and that she should just toss them.  Even his best friend, who had sung happy birthday to me at Tantalus, would ask why I refused to talk to him.  I ignored these inquiries.  Eventually even my mother would ask why I was being so cold.  She knew that he was my…uh…”first,” so she would always tell me to be a little more forgiving, at least hear what he has to say.  I was always surprised that she was suddenly so understanding, but I would ignore her advice.  After three years, on my eighteenth birthday, I finally thanked him for wishing me a happy birthday.  He continued to wish me a happy birthday every year despite my coldness.

By my eighteenth birthday, I had already been dating my now-fiancé.  At eighteen, I finally found it in my heart to forgive him.  We reconnected and have been in touch regularly since my eighteenth birthday.  Shortly before my birthday, he had begun dating someone with whom I was acquainted.  I did not particularly care for her (though I did not dislike her) and I didn’t know how she would influence or affect M.  M’s father was an alcoholic and occasional drug user, and after witnessing his father’s behavior as a child, he swore he would never touch drugs or alcohol.  I treasured that about M.  Shortly after we began talking again, I found out that he not only drank and did drugs (ecstasy, weed, small stuff), but he also began selling ecstasy.  I was upset and asked him why he had done a complete 180.  He didn’t have an answer for me, but I knew it was because his girlfriend was into raves and did drugs and drank a lot.  I’ve always resented her a bit for this, though we are on friendly terms.

There were very low points in both of our relationships.  We used each other in bad ways.  When I was upset with my boyfriend, I would find solace in M, and him in me when he and his girlfriend would hit very rough patches.  We never cheated on our significant others with each other, but our exchanges would have stung them.  M and his girlfriend both confided in me; I’m not sure why she confided in me to begin with, knowing well that we had dated before.  She always made him out to be the villain, but I knew he never was.  When they would fight, he would pour his heart out to me about how different she and I were and how he loved her but something just wasn’t the same.  I never really had anything constructive to say – I was just there to listen.  Once when I had probably the biggest fight with my boyfriend over his behavior with another woman, I called M sobbing from work, hiding in a stairwell, asking him if I was ugly, if I was stupid, if I was crazy.  He was on his way to pick his girlfriend up but stopped what he was doing to talk to me and said she could wait, that I was important.  Later that week he took me to another one of my favorite spots on the island and later to Bubbies for dessert.  A few weeks later, I called him for cocaine because that’s just how absolutely shitty I was feeling.  At first he was adamant about not selling me any because he didn’t want me to get caught up in it and be responsible for ruining my life.  I assured him I’d be fine, and it took a lot of convincing.  I did it that once and never again, as it wasn’t as amazing as everyone had made it out to be.  The way that I had resented his girlfriend for getting him involved with drugs, he resented my boyfriend for making me feel so low that I felt I needed drugs.  M always had a job on top of selling drugs, but did it just to earn extra money.  Shortly after this episode he stopped selling altogether, which made me extremely happy.

There were times M would apologize profusely for what he did to me, but over the years I had obviously grown and began to realize that I had overreacted and hurt him with my silence.  We talked about this many times and have never been able to agree upon whose fault it was.  Once at a rave, my boyfriend and I bumped into M and his girlfriend, and my boyfriend’s best friend greeted M warmly, and we both looked at the both of them asking how they knew each other.  They had known each other since high school, through video games.  M and my fiancé get along well to this day.

There were times that we admitted to each other that we would always deeply care for one another.  Once, one of my professors said that when you truly love someone, you never stop loving them.  You may not love them romantically, but there is a love that you harbor even after the relationship is completely dead.  I understood exactly what she meant because that’s how I felt about M then, and that’s how I feel now.  Even my fiancé has said the same thing.  Prior to me, he had two other long-term girlfriends, one for about six years and the other for almost five.  He said that although he no longer romantically loves them and although he cannot stand his most recent ex-girlfriend, there is still a part of him that cares about them.  That has never upset me, because I still hold that type of love for M in my heart.  At fifteen I never said I loved him because I didn’t know what love was.  The older I got, however, and the more I realized that my feelings for M resembled the feelings I cultivated for my fiancé, the more I accepted that he was my first love at the tender age of fifteen, though I did not realize it then.

He congratulated me on my engagement even though he doesn’t think my fiancé “deserves” me after all of the things my fiancé and I have had to endure.  He has a new girlfriend now, and today, I finally remembered to ask one of my best friends about his new girlfriend since they had worked together.  I asked her if she’s nice, and I mean, genuinely good-hearted and nice.  She said that she is, and that she’s very hard-working and will not take advantage of M the way I always fear women will because he’s kind and quite the hopeless romantic.  I don’t think he’d imagine that I’d prod a friend about his new girlfriend, but there is a part of me that feels very protective of him even though he is in no way mine anymore.  Even if my friend had come back with a negative answer about his new girlfriend, what would I have done with that information anyway?  I just wanted to know that she was as nice as she seems.

I do think that my fiancé and professor are correct.  If you truly love someone, I do not think the love fades.  The romantic, passionate love may fade, but there will always be a remnant of warmth and kindness left behind if the love was real.  I no longer hear “Jamie All Over” and get butterflies in my stomach, but I am reminded of the times M sang it for me, the time we spent together in my bed talking about nothing, the time he picked me up and spun me under the bright Mokuleia stars, and that he loved me when I was fifteen, exceedingly “emo,” chubby, and had braces.  There were times I had sent him provocative photos of myself recently (maybe about two years ago or so), twenty pounds lighter, better hair, no braces, bigger hipster glasses.  I did it just to tease him (and because this was a time I was extremely upset with my boyfriend over his behavior with another woman), but in the back of my head I still remembered that he loved me when I was awkward and fifteen and that the new and improved me didn’t mean much to him – he always saw me as sarcastic and funny with  biting wit, kind when I wanted to be.

I saw Mayday Parade in concert once in 2013, with my fiancé.  M wasn’t able to attend because he was working, but he made one request: “When they play our song, record it for me.”  I did that, and he thanked me for the video.  We no longer have those uncomfortably deep conversations because we are happy where we are.  He’s actually engaged to his new girlfriend – well, fiancée – and they live together and have a cat, just as my fiancé and I live together with our cat and two dogs.

Why am I thinking about this?  Earlier today he sent me a Snapchat in which “Jamie All Over” was blaring in the background.  In my usual Internet speak, I simply replied “All the feels.  Doushite?”  “Doushite” means “why” in Japanese.  He said it came up when he put his phone on shuffle, and that it’s still our “anthem.”  I’m an emotional bulldozer and I’m reckless, and I like to prod at deep memories and feelings that people keep tucked away.  I did this with him on and off for years while we were both in serious relationships, well knowing that had his girlfriend looked through his phone, it would have erupted and been very bad for all of us.  A part of me, the rotten part, kind of hoped she would find them and see how unhappy she had been making him.  To me knowledge, that never happened.  When he mentioned “Jamie All Over” still being our “anthem” after over seven years, the jolt in the wicked part of my brain wanted to keep prodding, knowing that he still cares about me and would talk if I asked or said the right things.  But as I had asked about his girlfriend earlier in the day, feeling that I needed to protect him, I also need to protect him from the person I know I can be when I want to be.  I’m sure she doesn’t know I exist, but I don’t want her to know I exist.  I think that’s what also made our relationship so odd the last time — his girlfriend then knew me, we had many mutual friends, and we saw each other regularly.  I was “the other woman” sometimes during his relationship, if you want to put it in the most vile terms, and I don’t want to be like that at all this time.  I am happy, and I want everything to work for him because he deserves it.  I suppose it’s just nice to know he still keeps some of us tucked away in the back of his head, too.