Still haven’t found…

With the return after 18 years of new Cardcaptor Sakura anime content this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about my past self. In high school, not too long after the original Cardcaptor Sakura series finished up, I found out about it and got really into it. It remains my all-time favorite anime and manga; I simply love everything about it. The characters, the art, the designs, the voice actors–it’s all exactly to my taste. It was true when I first started liking it in high school and it’s true today (I’ve been rewatching a lot of the anime in preparation).

Of course, one of the most important things I liked about it was that Sakura ends up finding her #1 person she loves most in the world, which is Syaoran, and we also get to see Syaoran slowly falling in love with her before she even realizes her own feelings, which is adorable. I loved their relationship which turns from rivals to love, and I always wished to find that for myself. Ever since I can remember I’ve been obsessed with the idea of finding the right person for me to spend my life with.

But 18 years later, I still haven’t found that, and despite all my other successes in life it’s enough to make me feel ashamed. I tend to have a lot of pride, and I don’t like the idea of people feeling sorry for me. It’s enough that I’m afraid to write this now, worried that someone who doesn’t like me but may be keeping tabs on me (like any former friends, or my ex-boyfriend, who I had to disconnect with on Twitter a few months back because he seemed to constantly be looking for chinks in my armor and ways to subtly put me down, probably so he could feel reassured about his own life choices) can use this information to feel better about themselves and superior to me.

And, yeah, I find myself single again, burned by a Japanese guy yet again, wondering if I’ll ever learn or if there’s even any hope for what I’m looking for in this country, and faced yet again with the same decision that’s been plaguing me for years now–relatively convenient, comfortable, fun life in Japan albeit with slim to no chance of meeting the person I want to meet, or life back in the US which will probably be much less convenient and easy, but definitely full of other people who have the same values as me and who are also looking for a serious relationship.

It just seems like people in Japan aren’t really looking for a serious romantic partnership the same way I am. When people get married here, very rarely are they deeply in love. Or even if they are, both of them seem to know that it doesn’t matter if they aren’t deeply in love forever. Both of them know that more than anything, they’re entering into an almost businesslike partnership–they will live together and raise children, and it’s okay if they’re not in love forever as long as they like each other enough to share a space together. So when they date, there’s definitely elements of romance but it still feels very superficial. It’s rare to find someone who’s actually interested in forming a deeper bond, and in making the changes in their life and in their communication style that will allow for that deeper bond to form.

Throw in the fact that I’m shallow and want to date someone relatively cute, not overweight, who preferably speaks English but is at least cool with the idea of non-Japanese people in general (it gets tiring when they’re very wide-eyed about it), who can understand if not join in on my nerdy hobbies, who’s nice and a fundamentally good person–oh and of course single–and I’m basically looking for a needle in a haystack, if he even exists at all. And of course there’s the other non-Japanese guys here too, but most are either weird, taken, not attractive, only here for a short time, and/or only interested in dating Japanese/Asian girls. Plus, they’re only 0.5% of the population, narrowing the chances even more.

I’m actually okay with this most recent breakup, because I was having a lot of doubts about him myself and if we were really right together (I never felt like I was falling in love, but then I was also afraid to because I didn’t want to get hurt again) and if he was really a good person (his actions could be very selfish at times, and I felt like I was constantly disappointed waiting for him to remember he needed to behave like he had a girlfriend–another person in his life to consider. But he never did). I’m still annoyed that he used an upcoming 3-6 month business trip to first noticeably pull away from me and then, when I asked him about it, admit it was on the horizon and that he thought it would be “impossible” for us to keep dating in light of that.

Anytime a Japanese person uses the word “impossible” (無理) with you, consider it the strongest no you’re ever going to receive, and back off right there because you’re not going to change their mind.

So I didn’t try to appeal to him or anything, but I’m pretty angry that he found out about this trip, decided all on his own that it meant we had to be over without asking me my thoughts at all (maybe I wouldn’t have minded long distance!), and yet didn’t make any moves to tell me himself until I called him out on being distant. Obviously what this means is that his feelings for me actually weren’t that strong or he would have made more of an effort to find a way to stay together–it’s clear he used this as an excuse to break up which it seems he already wanted to do, which is fine because I did too, but I’m still annoyed with how he handled it.

And if he did want to break up then I honestly don’t understand why because I was basically the perfect girlfriend. I was sweet and understanding of him at all times, only a few times being like “Hey! Please remember me and tell me about stuff!” but not angrily, one time getting pretty upset when he overslept a meeting time but not berating him and we made up pretty quickly. I was fun, lively, an otaku just like him. I’m really at a loss as to what it turns out he didn’t like about me, and also annoyed that it turns out he never appreciated any of that!

(Is it because I don’t wear underwear to sleep? That really freaked him out! And when I said it was for medical reasons–to prevent yeast infections–he doubted me! That was incredibly frustrating because I came face to face with men’s blissful entitlement, never having to know about the pain of periods or cramps or yeast infections and not just that but also not believing women when we talk about how bad they are! What a luxury to never know about that stuff and also doubt its reality! Still, in the moment, I was more incredulous than angry.)

Anyway, so yeah. Oh, and my birthday just passed, so I am a year older. Trying not to think about that…


life update!

I’m going to just write a brief update. I’m one month into my new job, and it’s going quite well. I’ve had so many bad experiences with work that I’m still on my guard, but it seems like things are probably not going to suddenly get worse. (I’m nervous because every other time I really liked a job when I started, something would happen to change it. Like an awful manager would suddenly come back from maternity leave and start making my life miserable, or someone who had previously seemed normal would reveal her true colors and I would realize that we were never going to get along.) I think in this case I can take everyone here at face value and it’s probably going to be okay.

My one concern is that I don’t… really enjoy most of my tasks. I can do them and sometimes it’s fun, but I don’t know if this is a field I’m passionate about (PR). I find myself wishing I could do my old job again, just get paid much better for it, not be under anyone I don’t respect, and have the status of a permanent employee of the company. I really liked the tasks I had at my old job and how I was never bored, always had something to do, and I didn’t always have to get what I wanted to do approved. Here, everything has to be approved, and sometimes you have to make a Japanese translation of it so everyone can understand which is… so… tedious and annoying. But the people at this job are good and everything about the job is great. I like that I’m doing something fairly important in the company, and my boss is great (I love having a male boss again, I’m sorry this isn’t a very feminist thing to say and I feel bad about it, but… female managers have just treated me so badly in the past, I can’t help it). Maybe I’ll come to like the tasks better over time…

Thanks to work I’m also playing like four more games because I have to understand how to play all of our games in order to write about them. That’s on top of the 3-5 games I was already playing in my own spare time. It’s intense… I’m logging in to like 10 games every day, and I never have enough time to read the stories.

My freelance project is coming to a close and I have nothing new lined up, which is both good and bad. This project brought in a LOT of money and I can finally afford some stuff like a new bed, a new washer/dryer, maybe even a pull-out couch–as well as a Disney World trip this winter with my family–but it also sucked away so much of my free time. I feel like I haven’t had time to do anything more than just basically take care of myself in months. I was supposed to finish everything this past weekend but I SLACKED OFF and now I’m just trying to finish by Friday.

My trip home in August between jobs was really nice! I spent about a week at my parents’ place and got to go watch the full solar eclipse with my dad and other relatives, which was super cool, and then a week in Dallas with Aro, my best friend. I also had a party and got to see just about all of my other friends too, which was great. I had to spend a lot of the trip working on the freelance project, so it wasn’t as relaxing as it could have been, but it was a good trip!

I also… got a boyfriend? I honestly don’t know how I found the time, I’m not sure what I was thinking except I decided very early on that I really wanted this guy. I met him the same way I met the past few guys I’ve dated or “dated” (there have been two guys in the past year where we went on four dates, chatting on LINE every single day for 1-2 months, and then one of us decided we weren’t ever going to become boyfriend and girlfriend), on the Japanese dating app Pairs. It’s basically the best way to meet people in Japan nowadays, especially since guys have to pay to use it so it weeds out a lot of the people who aren’t serious about finding an actual relationship (there’s so much trash on OkCupid in comparison…).

Usually on Pairs I would wait for a guy to “like” me (it’s like Tinder in that you can’t start talking to each other unless both of you “like” the other), decide if I liked him back, then wait for him to message me once the match was made. I wanted to see proof that he liked me and could be assertive. In this case, I broke all of my rules. I found him on the app, I don’t remember exactly how–maybe during a keyword search–and I sent him a “like.” I instantly felt like I really wanted him because he was cute but clearly a serious otaku (one of his pictures was him in cosplay), but he also liked doing active things (his other pictures were him on his road bike cycling around with his friends), which is fairly similar to me. He also said he could speak English too which I also like to see. I screencapped his profile and showed it to all my friends like “CHECK OUT MY SOULMATE” basically. He liked me too (yay!) so we matched and I sent him a message. It was me who first suggested we move our conversation to LINE (usually I wait for the guy to suggest that) and me who suggested we meet in person. However, every time I made those suggestions, he agreed enthusiastically, so I took it as a good sign.

Days before our first date, we discovered we were both at summer Comiket buying doujinshi. I went for two days and he went for all three. He actually spent 100,000 yen on doujinshi at Comiket! We didn’t meet there because we hadn’t even met in person yet (plus it’s huge and we were buying in different sections), but it was crazy to discover that we already had that in common. I had sort of assumed that as a male otaku, he’d be buying moe bullshit with cute (scantily clad) girls, but he told me that he buys all types of doujinshi, including BL/yaoi and GL/yuri, as well as male/female pairings too. I love BL, as basically anyone who knows me knows very well, but understandably it’s pretty rare to find guys who like it too, so this was… amazing to hear. Fudanshi (men who like BL) are pretty rare, and I’ve always wanted to find someone who at least understood my hobbies, so once again I felt pretty convinced that I wanted to date this guy.

Our first date went so well. We already had all the Comiket stuff to discuss, and then I found out that he’s just as addicted to a game as I am. He actually has two phones, and one phone is dedicated solely to his game (Kantai Collection AKA KanColle). Like… respect. I want a whole phone for my game too, haha. So he’s not ever going to judge me for playing EnStars every day. And actually, a limited gacha/grab bag in EnStars with my #2 favorite character as the rarest card to get had just started that day, and Touma (let’s call him that) had just told me how he had pulled in a gacha for a friend of his at Comiket and gotten the card his friend wanted, so he was pretty confident in his luck. I was super nervous about whether I would get this card (especially since I’d spent real money so I would have enough in-game currency to do the pull, and was prepared to do three 10-pulls trying for it), but I decided to go ahead and have him pull for me. I gave him my phone, he pulled… and he got every single card in the gacha. All four cards, including the rarest one (with a 1.5% chance of coming), the one I wanted. It is incredibly rare and lucky for one pull (of 10 cards) to contain every single card in the gacha. (In fact, I just had to do 14 pulls of 10 cards in order to get the rarest card of my #1 boy in another gacha in this damn game. Yes, it was expensive and honestly stressful, and yes these gacha are very dangerous, but I did get him in the end–two copies, even.) It’s possible to pull and not get any cards from the limited gacha at all (just fillers), and an average fairly lucky pull will have either the rarest card or the second-rarest, but not both. To get every single card, including the one I wanted which was the most difficult to get… well, it’s just some insane luck.

So that seemed like a sign…

And then the other thing was at the end of the date, we left the restaurant and it was raining. I pulled out my foldable umbrella, which is lavender with polka dots because I love purple. Everyone who knows me knows that I love purple. Most of the things in my apartment are purple. My bike is purple. My yoga mat is purple. My cat’s carrier is even purple. I looked over to see him pulling out his own foldable umbrella…

It was a deep purple color.

I was just like “Oh, your umbrella is purple!” and he said “Yeah, I love purple.”


So yeah. We are dating now. He hasn’t had a girlfriend in three years! I’m really, really nervous about this relationship because every time I’ve tried to date a Japanese guy, it has basically crashed and burned. My last real relationship didn’t even last a month before he was telling me I scared him. I actually held off on telling a lot of my friends for several days because I was so nervous. How many times have I written a blog entry here gushing about a new guy, only for the relationship to go sour very soon after? I don’t feel confident at all that I can be normal in a relationship and not scare a guy away! But I really like him and want to keep seeing him, and miraculously he likes me back and has told me so many times already (very cute). I’m just trying to focus on that.

Why is the chase all that matters for guys, it seems?

I really don’t understand why… guys try so hard to hook you. And then once you’re hooked, they’re no longer interested.

The beginning is the best, really–they’re working so hard to impress you, picking up the tab and not letting you contribute, making reservations, doing research, happily going along with what you suggest, telling you how great and beautiful you are. So when it happens, you’re primed to agree to be their girlfriend.

And then, slowly, it starts going downhill. It may take a few months but it will, inevitably it feels like.

I’m getting to the point where I just can’t trust a guy to stick with me. He’ll ask me out, sure, but then it’s like he considers his duty done and now he has pasted a girlfriend onto the facade of his life, but he’s certainly not going to change any part of his life to accommodate said girlfriend, he’s not going to change anything about himself. And I remember the compliments I got at the beginning–you’re so beautiful, etc–and I wonder if they ever actually cared about who I was, or if they just wanted to show me off.

See, this time I had my eyes wide open. I was skeptical. I knew that if someone was complimenting only my looks, he may not like my personality. But he seemed so easygoing and laidback, he seemed like the type to take it in stride. He told me all about how he thinks it’s a guy’s job to keep his girlfriend happy. I started to think that okay, maybe he can handle me. Maybe he can handle that I’m insanely picky about food, I’m addicted to an idol boy game that keeps me tethered to my phone all day (at 2.5 hour intervals most days), I like BL and anime and other weeb/otaku shit, I have dealt with anxiety and depression in the past, have been on medication for them, and those issues may flare up, and I’m generally a sensitive person who sometimes needs a break from stimulation (all of which has gotten me labeled as a drama queen by less charitably minded people/”friends” in the past).

So I started trying to let him in on it. I could tell the mental health issues thing weirded him out. I wouldn’t have even told him except that a side effect of my medication (which I stopped a month ago, but we’ll come back to that) was going to be something he’d notice, so I thought he should know. I could tell he was judging me for using my phone so much, especially because he likes to be as untethered as possible (he prefers to use an iPad over a phone–who knows why). One time I even purposely ignored my game on my phone because I knew he’d give me the side eye for picking it up and playing it.

Who knows if any of these things really contributed to it, though, because what happened was that he thought I was trying to tie him down by asking for too much contact. Basically, I wanted us to talk every day. That’s how my most successful relationship worked and I was super happy with that setup. On my first date with this guy, he asked me how to make a long distance relationship work, because he’d failed before but he gets sent on these month-long business trips and he was worried about maintaining a connection with someone during that time. I said “As long as there’s communication, you can keep the connection alive. But it has to be regular communication.” He smiled and looked relieved. He seemed to agree with me completely.

And yet, when that proposition became a reality, he balked. I wanted us to have a short chat ideally every day but once every couple days would have been all right too. Just 30 minutes or so of us being available to one another to catch up in real time about our days, weekend plans, etc. I was willing to compromise on the communication frequency. I told him he could work it out. But he was still spooked. That whole idea scared him. He thought I was trying to tie him down and he told me to “think of our relationship more casually.” Excuse me? You asked me out, you asked me to be your girlfriend, and you talked a big game about how it’s your job to keep me happy. You gushed about me to your friends, to your PARENTS, your parents bought me presents, you cut your hair for me, you made it sound like you planned to be with me for a while, and now suddenly chatting daily is too much?

He did agree that I was completely right and that this had been an issue in his past relationships. And yet instead of challenging himself to try something new, he ran. All of a sudden his job had him working hours so long he never got to go home (boo hoo, you made your choices) and “we aren’t a fit” because I’m trying to control him. Except I’m not, I’m just coming at him with American relationship and communication ideals. This is normal and not controlling in the US. I don’t want to control him. I just want to keep our connection strong through regular communication. Not messages you send here and there, and I reply to hours later, and you reply to hours later, and we never have a real-time conversation and I don’t know when I’m going to see you next. No. I’m not going to do that.

So yet again, I’m left blindsided by another guy who swerved away from a chance at a deep connection, which is what I want. Why even ask people out if you don’t want a real connection??? I don’t even know how to trust what guys say going forward. I mean, what can I do? If they ask me to date, be like “Stop. Do you really mean that? Do you really like me for who I am and are you willing to try to forge a real bond with me?” I can see many guys just running in the opposite direction from how intense that is. Or, or, they tell me what they think I want to hear. They enthusiastically say they’re down for that (just like he did on the first date), but in reality they’re not. How can I even trust what they say?

And then I fall for them. And then as soon as they can say they “got me,” they lose interest. What the fuck? Do I just have to pretend to be aloof and uninterested the entire time so they can feel the thrill of the chase and feel motivated to keep me happy? Why are men like this?

I’m not even really that upset about this guy specifically. I liked him, but I was just starting to get to know him, and some of what I saw, I didn’t like–such as how he had a weird habit of shouting (in English) “Make some noise!!! Let’s bounce, yo!!!” at random times. I do NOT know why. It’s hilarious in hindsight, but still totally insane. Definitely glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore. Or how I’d turn around and find him chatting to some random sketchy guy from Bangladesh (he lived there and can speak the language), which happened twice. Or his weird ideas about sex and our weird singular encounter (0 orgasms. For anyone). I dodged a bullet, but when I think about the future, I still feel pretty hopeless. Is it really going to be any better in the US?

Work venting (or: why am I not getting promoted?!)

I’m currently really upset/unsettled about a work situation so I’m mostly going to vent about it.

First, a nice positive update. My love life is currently going well. I have a boyfriend! And from the looks of things so far, a very good one. Which I’ve definitely thought and said in the past. So I still feel cautious that this one is going to pull the rug from under me like, unfortunately, a couple have in the past. But… he’s really good. He thinks I’m the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen (this is what he said). He voluntarily met me at the airport when I got back from my trip to the US and then accompanied me to go get my cat from my friend’s place where she had been staying while I was gone, and helped me bring her back to my apartment. This is not an easy task but he did it cheerfully, willfully, and happily. When he asked me out, he did it as we were riding Splash Mountain on a very impromptu (we arrived at 5pm) trip to Tokyo Disneyland, which happened solely because I said I wanted to go and he agreed readily. The one thing I was a bit unsure of about him was his hair, which was getting a little long and he said he actually had no plans to cut it (it’s a minor thing, but hair is a big part of how you look, and I am shallow). I didn’t tell him to cut it, though I did say I prefer shorter hair (and he said he prefers naturally colored hair when I showed him pictures of me with partially dyed blue and pink hair, so I jokingly said that it’s the same for me and short hair, and maybe if he cut his hair I wouldn’t dye mine again) and I had actually made my peace with it because he was making the look work, but when I saw him last weekend I didn’t recognize him because he had cut his hair the way that I had hoped he would cut it. He cut his hair for me… I still can’t believe it. Oh, and of course he looks EVEN CUTER with his hair cut! (Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my end and not dyeing my hair.)

He is Japanese but he went to grad school in London and lived for several years in Bangladesh; he can speak English (accented but fluidly) which means he can understand my English which is a huge relief for me (again, not because I can’t speak Japanese–I can–I just prefer to relax when I’m dating someone and if I’m always thinking and speaking in my second language I can’t relax). Aside from that we have great communication in general and I feel like I can talk to him about anything–not only that but he’s likely to just take it in stride. I had him do his MBTI type and he is ENTP, which is supposedly one of the best matches for my type, INFJ. I have actually never dated an extrovert before. I always get crushes on extroverts (and then we just become friends but never hook up ever), but I have never dated one before now. It’s another big relief because I don’t have to worry about him talking to my friends–he’ll talk to them just fine and in fact be HAPPY and EXCITED to meet new people. And of course, the fact that he speaks English will help if he ever meets my parents. Oh! And he’s already told his parents about me. We’ve been dating a month but when he went back to visit his parents over the Obon holidays he told them about me (this is extremely, extremely rare in Japanese relationships) and they bought me souvenirs which he gave to me. They got me two types of souvenirs from the part of Japan where they live, and his mom got me a clear file with Mt. Fuji on it with summer flowers all around it, which I love.

I’m still just in complete awe over this. He is so great, and I feel really happy and relaxed when I’m with him. When we were on the train bringing my cat home I felt suffused with this feeling of 幸せ; pure happiness.

But so anyway, let’s get down to the real reason I’m here, which is to rant about yet another unfair work situation.

So, okay. Some backstory. In March 2015, I was hitting a low point. I was basically being bullied at my job by my boss and I felt really isolated from my coworkers because many of them didn’t like me. I was dating Shiki but he was getting more and more distant. I was living in a tiny, cockroach-infested apartment that I hated. I wasn’t on my meds so I was on my own with my emotions. Moving back to the US seemed like the best solution to all of my problems. I wrote a long Facebook post about how I’d decided I would be moving back in a year because I was having such a hard time and couldn’t hack it here anymore. I got a lot of sympathy but it also kind of had more of a long-term effect than I had imagined. Basically ever since, whenever I’d meet up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, they’d mention the post and seem concerned about me. Or I’d be talking with someone and suddenly they’d burst out with “Well, I don’t understand what you’re even still doing there, considering you’re miserable.”

In a nutshell, the post had the effect of convincing the majority of my friends that I was completely miserable and unhappy in Japan (and also, that the longer I stayed, the more some of them–the unkinder ones–judged me for still being there) and I was going to leave any minute. Which was true, at that moment in time. It’s not still true today though. March 2016 has come and gone and I’m still here. I do still have a tentative departure date, maybe, but it’s two years from now.

What happened to change things, really, was that I got a new job, and one that I was really excited about. In the fall, I was talking with two of my friends and one had worked as a freelance translator for a company where one of her old classmates had worked. This company also happened to be the rival company of my current company, so same industry, same genre. At that point in time, I just wanted out from my current company but I wasn’t ready to move back to the US quite yet. Going freelance and then moving back seemed like a pretty good plan, so I asked my friend to put in a good word with me at that company with the person I will call Sena (that’s the nickname my coworkers and I have for her, although she is American).

Then, I was contacted by a recruiter about a full-time position at that company. I jumped on it and interviewed. One of the three people I interviewed with was–Sena! And at that time I assumed she would be my potential future coworker, someone at the same level as me. And I thought I was interviewing for a position in charge of a game. I got the job, and was utterly thrilled and promptly decided I was staying another two years at least because I didn’t want to fuck up my resume which was already looking too much like I was a job hopper. I was so ready to get out of the toxic environment at my old job that I gave up my December bonus of about $5,000 give or take, which I would have gotten if I’d just stuck it out one more month. But I was at my limit and I couldn’t wait that month. Plus, I thought I was moving on to a higher position.

Surprise on my first day then, when I discovered I was actually part of a team for a game under the person in charge of the game, who was Sena at that time. She was my boss! I didn’t anticipate that.

So what I didn’t know until today is that at some point, either when my friend put in a word for me with Sena about freelancing, or during my interview process for a full-time job, Sena asked my friend some questions about me. And in that conversation, my friend (probably thinking of that Facebook post in which I declared I was leaving in a year and sounded miserable) told Sena that I had been thinking of leaving Japan soon and was going through a rough time.

Unbeknownst to me for a long time, Sena took that information and ran with it. At the time I interviewed they were interviewing a lot of people, and Sena would come back to the department and tell everyone–casually, out in the open plan office, not in a meeting–her thoughts and impressions on each of the candidates. This is really unprofessional! Anyway, so what she said about me was that she thought I’d only stay a few months and then I’d be out, that I didn’t seem interested in the company or the job at all. (Then why did you decide to hire me?!) None of this is true because that was never my plan and I took the interviews very, very seriously because, while yes I wanted out of my toxic company, I honestly wanted to work at this company. In fact, I thought the interview I had with her went very well, I thought it was the best interview I’d ever had in my life and that we all left it feeling like we’d bonded. But in reality, she came away with a totally different impression and was thus very dismissive of me before I’d even started.

So, I started, discovered I wasn’t in the director position, had a few meetings with her and HR and our manager about it, and I thought I made it clear to her that I wanted to become director in the future if I couldn’t start as one, if it was a role that I could do. In the meantime, I set out to become a very strong producer, which was my role (not its real name but I’ll call it that). And I did do that, and I am a very strong producer. I have an eye on not just my own things I’m in charge of but the game as a whole, and I spend my own time (sometimes my own free/weekend time) thinking about and coming up with new things to implement in the game and new ways we can make money. I was also given some more translation-oriented tasks to do, because that’s what I did at my last company, though where possible I tried to push my other skills–things that would be necessary if I were to become director. It never really felt like Sena listened to me about that though. Another girl joined the team I was on in February and I would not say she’s a stronger producer than me, though she tries very hard and we do work well together as a team.

So, now the time has come for the new director of the game I’m working on to be chosen, and Sena as the manager (she got promoted along the way) is in charge of the decision.

Did she ask me what I wanted? Did she ask the other girl what she wanted? Did she ask the current director, my boss, who thinks very highly of me and who herself said I was likely to be the next director, for her recommendation?


She decided all on her own, based on her “intuition,” based on her impression of me from back in the interview and back in her conversation with my friend in which my friend said I was unhappy and might be moving back and wanted to go freelance (which I had also told Sena about, though I’m pretty sure I said it was like an in the future type thing), that I was not the right fit for the director position at this time, and she was going to promote my coworker instead. Who started after me. Who was an English teacher before this. Who has a total of 5 months of game industry experience. (At this point I have a bit over two years’ experience.) Who is not the stronger producer, as anyone on our team will agree.



So at first I thought, this is because Sena thinks I’m difficult and my coworker is compliant and easy to manage. She wants a yes man. But now, I don’t know. I think her impressions of me as someone who was just going to quit after a few months have done a lot of damage here. That was never my intention, and I thought I made that clear, but obviously I didn’t.

So I talked this over with Sena and the conversation actually went fairly well. I told her that I want to progress my career here, and I intend to stay for at least another two more years and by the end of that time I want to have a strong resume to show to game companies in the US so I can get a good (NOT entry level) position there. She explained that she sees a lot of herself in me, that she thinks I have a great gift for translation that she wants to use to the fullest, that she plans to put me in a different type of role (read: a translation-focused one, which is NOT WHAT I WANT), that she does have leadership plans for me in the future, but that choosing the other girl for this role makes sense for now. When I pressed her as to why her and not me, she said it’s because she wants to put me in charge of new projects in the future. (But I realized there’s a contradiction in what she said, because she also said that she wants to put “experienced directors” in charge of new projects, and I would not be an experienced director at that time.)

So I accepted it for a while and now I’m back to feeling bitter. Because this happened before. This happened at my last company. My friend was hired, everyone loved him, and while I left before this happened, he was promoted (in fact a position was created for him) and even if I’d stayed it would not have been me getting promoted. And I spent so long feeling shitty, like I don’t belong in the workplace, my personality is all wrong for it, I can’t just do what people tell me to do if I think it’s dumb, I talk back sometimes, I’m never going to have professional success as anything more than someone who does an entry level job really well, I’m never going to be promoted again. (I was promoted at my job in the US; twice actually, but neither put me in charge of other people.) And I was trying so hard to prove myself here (I mean, that wasn’t my sole motivation to do a kickass job; I did a kickass job because I enjoyed the work and it came naturally to me to excel at it), and it just feels like it was all for nothing. Arbitrary reasons, feelings, and “intuition” are going to be all that matters. (And this is coming from someone who values intuition a lot, but I also think when you’re making promotion decisions, maybe talk to everyone involved too.)

I’m more convinced than ever that I’m not going to thrive under this crazy person and I should just get out before she does any more damage to my career, but I’ve kicked up a fuss about this and I think everyone agrees by now that the next person to be promoted has to be me. So it would be silly to quit now, and also, I really don’t want to go through the whole job hunting rigmarole again, especially since I told myself this was going to be my last job hunt in Japan.

I did however get a new freelance gig, writing articles for a Japan news site, which is good because the translation work I was doing has pretty much dried up (so it’s good that I saved almost all the money from that).

More whining about dating and love in Japan

(Adapted from a comment I wrote to Mary of Ruby Ronin)

I’ve written about this many times before, but dating here in Tokyo as a non-Japanese woman continues to feel kind of hopeless, which is another reason I frequently think that I want to move back to the US (but cannot seem to decide one way or the other once and for all)–to find a life partner. Even though a “friend” accused me of having yellow fever numerous times, it’s not like I’m thrilled with the prospect of dating Japanese guys. But when you live here, it’s kind of your best chance, and I’m definitely attracted to the cute ones and appreciate their hairlessness. In any case, I have not had great luck with foreign guys here either (for numerous reasons), so there’s no use shutting out 98% of the population. For Japanese men, I try to look for the guys that have been overseas, while not going so far as to find the guys who are fascinated by all things foreign and just want to be wide-eyed around a foreigner, to try to find someone compatible with my American sensibilities, but even that is no guarantee. Shiki, my last ex who ghosted me, spent age 8-18 in the US. And he still had communication and avoidance issues.

The biggest issue is really communication. I believe you should be open and honest in relationships, and try to work out a better way of doing things together whenever there’s an impasse. But it doesn’t work if it’s just me explaining my feelings, and the other person is silent but formulating secret escape plans (Shiki) or refusing to budge at all and continuing to do what I already said I didn’t like (Mitsu – specifically telling me to change various things about my body).

Cheating, while I’m aware it’s rampant here, has not really been an issue I’ve noticed personally. Maybe they were cheating and I never knew, but I tend to go for introverted, shy guys who aren’t the type to be flirting and meeting up with girls. When things were going south with Shiki, acquaintances would tell me he must definitely be cheating, but that just wasn’t his personality. Maybe he was, but I tend to believe he was just mired in work and possible depression/exhaustion. I had a moment of weakness a couple weeks ago and LINE messaged him “Hey, hope you’re doing well.” He responded by creating a new LINE account, which automatically became friends with mine (I don’t think he realizes this happens every time he makes a new account). Of course, he didn’t respond to me, and based on the timing I guess he made the new account in an attempt to avoid me. He clearly still thinks I’m some crazy stalker ex. I don’t deny that I acted that way but he also pulled away the emotional attachment I had gotten used to (typical avoidant attachment style) so I think my reaction is somewhat understandable. I definitely tend to have an anxious attachment style so I just wasn’t a good match with an avoidant person anyway.

In addition to differing attitudes on cheating, there can still be weird attitudes about the sex industry that I don’t think most American guys would have. My ex Mitsu told me about an overseas trip he took (before we were dating) where he and his friends visited a brothel together, and he slept with one of the prostitutes there. He had no remorse, and it almost disgusted me enough to break up with him then. (To clarify, I’m not against the sex industry/prostitution as a whole, but I really doubt the woman he slept with for money in some South American country was doing it because it was a profession she had chosen. It’s more likely she was forced or roped into it, and I hate to hear about male tourists contributing to that situation. And I still don’t understand why he and his friends thought that was an okay thing to do all together while traveling abroad.) It’s still a really weird thing about him, but he never saw it that way. But I’ve heard of tons of similar stories. I heard about the executives at my last company going on sex tourism trips together; I’m sure they were married. Hell, the CEO of my last company allegedly had a sex apartment where he took girls, separate from his house where his wife and kid lived, and he also once brought vibrators to work that he planned on using later that evening and showed them to my old team leader (to be like “Hey bro, check this out, I’m such a stud”). But I think his wife totally knew and just accepted it as the price of her lifestyle. I think a lot of women here do think of it that way and accept that it’s going to happen. People just have a different view on marriage here, it’s more like a business transaction, an agreement to raise a family together as eventual platonic partners, than a romantic connection upheld that way forever. To me, that’s depressing, but that’s often how it is here.

I think it’s possible to find a great Japanese guy (a few of my friends here have) who doesn’t have any of the cheating and emotional unavailability issues, but they are extremely rare. You also often have to catch them early, like in college, before the Japanese society mindset clamps down on them and they turn into someone who would never consider actually committing to a non-Japanese woman.

Unfortunately, my American conviction that healthy relationships involve open communication, and Japanese people’s tendency to be afraid of and run away from (or just think is too rude to even tolerate) openness and directness really clash sometimes. That’s been the biggest issue.

However, I truly am enjoying the single life. For so long, I have spent my life waiting for a response from a guy, checking my phone and feeling disappointed when he hasn’t sent anything. I spent so much of last year obsessing over the demise of my relationship and trying to picture what the hell my ex was going through. It was just a lot of wasted effort. He wasn’t doing the same for me, so why should my life basically end up revolving around him? Once it became unequal, I should have ended it. I learned a good lesson. I am not waiting around for a guy and putting him on a pedestal and obsessing over him anymore. I’m way more important to me than some dude who doesn’t care about me. And relationships–having to factor someone else into your decisions, and make compromises, and hash things out–can be so much work. For once, I’m actually enjoying this time instead of desperately trying to find someone. I really like it.

…Or, well, I was enjoying the single life. Lately, I feel back to desperately checking Pairs (a Japanese dating app) and Okcupid for messages from anyone cute. And I’m feeling increasingly despondent about ever finding someone, even though it’s been my dream ever since I was little to find… well, I know “true love” and “the one” and “soulmate” is bullshit, but can I at least say “the love of my life”? I thought I had found that person, but he’s with someone new now and seems very happy, and we probably weren’t right anyway. I would really like to find my other half, it’s what I’ve been dreaming of almost my entire life, and I hate the thought of living out my life and never finding that person, which sometimes it feels like that’s how it will be. It doesn’t help that literally all of my friends back home are more or less happily paired off and have been for years and years now. I am the only one who had a long-term boyfriend and we aren’t still together today. Ugh, I hate it. I’m sick of looking for my 運命の人 and never finding him. Where is he?

Thank you, Momoko Kanzaki of Laurier

Getting ghosted fucked me up for a while. I still feel a tiny bit fucked up about it when I think about it now, though I’m feeling in a better place every day. Honestly, 2015 was basically me getting progressively more jaded and cautious after suffering romantic and career rejections (even if things seem to be better now on at least one of those fronts).

While I was still trying to figure out how to get through that whole situation, during the gray period where no one had officially broken up with anyone but getting my supposed boyfriend to contact me and follow through on promises to see me was like pulling teeth and I wasn’t sure whether to pull the plug or hold out because both choices seemed equally painful, I did a lot of desperate late-night googling. I read up on ghosting, fading out, all of that in English and Japanese, because I figured there might be cultural differences that would mean I should get a Japanese perspective too. The Japanese sources ended up being more helpful to me because the work culture is so much more intense here, which is why it’s a lot harder in Japan to figure out if someone is really, truly just busy with work or if they’re fading out on you, because it is possible that it’s entirely work stuff and his feelings haven’t changed. I read accounts from several girls who endured months-long periods of virtual radio silence from their then-boyfriends, now-husbands who eventually surfaced and they were married. (Who knows if those are actual solid marriages though, or if he’s going to pull that same stunt again down the line.) Another girl said that her boyfriend regularly disappeared for months at a time, and she waited patiently because he always came back around, and it was just an established pattern by then.

At the beginning, stories like that gave me hope. Yeah, exactly! It’s just work and he’ll come back to me! Everything was so good! By the end, they just depressed me. These girls are getting played, and so am I… 

One of the things I came across during these Google sprees was the writing of Momoko Kanzaki, a writer for the women’s/love section of Excite News (lol, I know, Excite still exists and is relevant–only in Japan). I was so moved by what she wrote in three of her columns, which seemed to be about exactly what I was going through, that I copied down the text and saved it. She takes a very brassy, no-nonsense view of how men often treat women, and a lot of it was just what I needed to hear, although it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

She wrote about dating busy men. First there’s this article [J], entitled “Men who won’t contact you because ‘Work is busy'” (I’ve translated these excerpts; any bolding is by me).

Men who can’t even make plans using work as an excuse, who will happily leave you waiting for months on end, and who are too tied up to even text you are not a partner who is honestly face to face with you.
If you’re thinking about your future, it can’t be one-way–it has to be “partners who are both properly facing one another” or it won’t last.

She followed it up with “No impatience, no complaining, no brooding… how to date a busy man you rarely see?” [J].

Men who are buried in work, who say work is crazy are not placing importance on love, so they’re not going to fall in love. It’s highly likely that, unexpectedly, they’ve rarely gotten truly close to a woman before; they’ve kept themselves at a moderate distance. It’s also the case that they reject deep connections and are afraid of them.
They can’t bear people’s feelings.
That’s why they make it their job’s fault, saying “I’m busy, so…” and seek refuge at work. These men are not open to love.
It’s highly unlikely that he’s going to fight for you, nor can you hope that he’ll treat you with good faith. He can’t face your serious intentions.
He’s fine keeping you waiting, he won’t give you an answer, and he wants to be vague. He doesn’t want to get scolded later, so he won’t even make plans. He refuses to take responsibility or shoulder any weight.
So if you want to force it to work with a man like that, all you can do is smile, look past it, and endure.

She also wrote about the fadeout: “‘Is this a fadeout?’ Men who go radio silent–why do they suddenly disappear?” [J].

I think it’s buried deep in a man’s psyche to choose to flee when things get rough. They don’t want to be blamed, so they don’t want to become the bad guy. There are things he’s hiding and things no one can know, so he fades out.

To have someone suddenly sever the ties in your relationship is truly rough. You don’t even know why he left, and even though you want to know the truth, he continues to completely ignore you no matter if you call and text. When he won’t tell you anything, and you can’t even talk to him, all you can do is end things all on your own. With no way of confirming that it’s over, it’s incredibly difficult to force yourself to bury your feelings.
You have to give a good kick to a guy who won’t say a single word to you.
You can’t hope for a constructive relationship from someone who tries to run away when things get bad and inconvenient for him, and you can’t build a solid foundation. So while ending it with someone like that is the right thing to do, a wordless declaration of intention causes people to suffer; it haunts them and won’t let them go. There’s nothing so painful as to be ignored with no reaction at all.

Yeah, it was pretty much like she was speaking into my soul. Everything was happening EXACTLY as she described. I really think my ex Shiki was afraid of forming a deep connection with anyone, and once I seemed to be asking that of him, he disappeared. Looking back, I really wonder if he’s gay or something (there were some bedroom issues too) and that’s why he preferred me at arm’s length. I just don’t know. It continues to baffle me why he was so adoring in the beginning and then went cold.

But I refuse to have a partner like that anymore, someone who is avoidant and puts work first, who doesn’t make love a priority. “Partners who honestly face each other”–that’s what I want to find looking forward, though I also have very little hope of finding an enlightened guy like that in Japan. Which is why right now I’m just enjoying the single life, and can’t summon the motivation to go on a bunch of dates and attempt to get the best one to ask me to be his girlfriend. I feel like my life is pretty busy already, with not enough time for me to chill at home (and work on freelance stuff), because I have a lot of (wonderful!) friends who are always inviting me to fun things, so I don’t even know where I’d fit a boyfriend in anyway. But these articles are a reminder not to settle for (Japanese) male bullshit.

Dating Japanese guys as an American girl

I’ve been thinking a lot about my experiences dating here, and about the types of situations I want to avoid from here on out (that’d be almost everything I’ve experienced so far, ha) and how best to avoid that.

I’m really realizing that for a lot of Japanese guys, because I’m not Japanese but I’m a white girl who speaks Japanese, I was sort of an interesting and different one-time thing. They didn’t want to make me their girlfriend, but they WERE interested in sleeping with me and then making an excuse as soon as they could to never see me again. I go into every date hoping for something serious and lasting to develop (if we click), but I think a lot of these guys were not looking for the same thing. I think because I’m not Japanese, it was easier to fetishize/dehumanize me, to think “Oh, I wouldn’t date her, but I’ve never been with a white girl before, so let’s try it out. Okay, that was fun, I got my one experience I needed, bye.” And I’m not sure if it was because I’m not Japanese or because they were in a different place in their life, but I’m realizing I have kind of been taken advantage of. And while this didn’t happen a LOT, in most cases I still went along with it, I was just as curious as they were, but it’s gotten old and I’m no longer interested in helping any more Japanese guys check “sleep with white girl one time” off their life bucket lists. So I’ve attempted to institute a policy of “I only sleep with boyfriends,” but unfortunately, I still got blindsided recently. And I really don’t want that to happen again.

Remember at the end of my final breakup post when I said things seemed to be developing well with a new guy? Yeah, that just ended up leading to ANOTHER ghosting experience. Seriously, the universe could not be more cruel. I was still reeling from my breakup with Shiki, trying so hard to protect myself from anything like that happening ever again, hoping to find another relationship, and I ended up getting ghosted AGAIN.

So back in August, this guy Ryo and I had a good first date, and for our second we spent most of the day at a pool and then changed into yukata to watch fireworks. The next next weekend, we met up to watch the Tamagawa fireworks, this time in jinbei (we coordinated). After the fireworks we went drinking in Shinjuku Golden-gai (fulfilling a longtime goal of mine!), and I got a little tipsy. Our conversation over LINE had been openly flirtatious/sexual for a while up until that point, and I was getting worried that things were leading to a physical-only place, when I wanted a relationship. So I told him that I only sleep with guys I’m dating. He asked what would be necessary to constitute dating. I answered “告白 kokuhaku,” the typical love confession that prefaces a relationship. Basically telling someone “I like you, do you want to go out with me?”

Aside: It’s very refreshing that this custom exists here in Japan because in the US, you can end up in this weird limbo until one of you initiates a “DTR” (defining the relationship) talk and clarifies whether you’re boyfriend and girlfriend or just hanging out. I think that lets guys get away with being lazy and cowardly, but in Japan it’s expected that at some point the guy will let you know his intentions (or just stop contacting you, which is fine if no kokuhaku has taken place yet).

Anyway, so I told him that’s what I would need before sleeping with someone, and he then proceeded to… ask me to go out with him. He gave me a lot of compliments, said he’d been thinking that he’d like me to be his girlfriend, and I ended up a blushing mess. It was sweet. I accepted immediately, which surprised him, but I said that I had also been thinking I’d accept if he asked me.

It all kind of went downhill from there. Because I was drunk and had not been with anyone for a long time (the last time Shiki and I slept together was in March. MARCH), by the end of the night I had decided we should immediately consummate the new relationship. So yes, it was me who brought it up; he didn’t say “Okay, we’re official now, let’s go do it.” And we did. But the next morning, while I had expected we would make or get breakfast together, he left pretty soon after waking up.

And didn’t text me at all the whole rest of the day.

Or the next.

I finally texted him something like “??” since I had asked him what to do with the carton of tea he had left in my fridge. He told me I could just throw it away. Confused, I said “Oh no, you’ll drink it the next time you’re over, right? Since we’re dating now?”

No reply.

I wrote him a text saying “Oh, I forgot to tell you before, but I’m excited that we’re going out now, and よろしく and all that!” Again… nothing.

Finally, on Thursday of that week I let him know that I thought what he’d done was pretty shitty and I didn’t think he was that kind of person, but this was clearly not a relationship and it was over.

And that was it! He never responded again. I got ghosted again by someone who had allegedly asked me to be his girlfriend but in reality just peaced after sleeping with me. (Full disclosure: He was no big loss to me, I wasn’t developing real feelings or anything, but to get slapped in the face with such rude behavior–AGAIN–was really not what I needed particularly at that point in time, when I was still raw over Shiki.)

So, this isn’t happening again. After a lot of licking my wounds and trying to heal from the breakup over the past few months (I still feel upset about it, but hoping that continues to fade with time), I have a date for Sunday night with a Japanese guy who speaks English, and after we set the date/time, I messaged him this: “Oh, but I need to say something… I have gone on several dates in the past with Japanese guys who it turns out just wanted to have sex with me. I really hope you’re not like that, because I am looking for a boyfriend and I don’t sleep with guys so casually. Just so you know! Sorry to have to say this, and hopefully you still want to meet. :)”

Fortunately, he does still want to meet! He reassured me he’s looking for a girlfriend and doesn’t sleep with girls casually either. I will still be on my guard (and I will never again sleep with someone the night they ask me to be their girlfriend), but hopefully this will cut down on the phenomenon. I am very sick of Japanese men using me and throwing me away, and I’m not going to tolerate it anymore.

Other big changes have happened in my life, such as a new job (yaaaaay I finally quit my terrible boss!) and a new apartment (yaaaaay I have real space to live in now!), but I’ll expand on those later. I have a lot to say about leaving my old company and realizing my boss and I were never going to understand each other and she was never going to recognize me and my abilities…