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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Who Was That Masked Man?

There's a term I read recently—masked depression—that seems to aptly describe what I was going through in Japan at various times.

Head shrinks would say that guys will party heavily to hide the 'sadness' they feel.

Masked depression is not clinical depression (IE chemical imbalance), it's just a malaise… a sadness… a downer... and since men aren't allowed to cry (suck it up, Buttercup!), it is exposed in other ways.

Such as in song, thrown all over this here blog. Of course, regular readers will know that while in Japan my behavior did change...

My first year in Japan, since I was an adult now, was spent in the pursuit of happiness—chasing Ashley's bottom.

When that all fell apart late in my first year, I began to find solace in the bottom of a glass—vodka-based drinks at first, then bourbon, and then rum, sake and beer. The problem became self-evident when I realized I was having all of those at a single sitting.

I picked myself up (literally and physically)—it was easy, mostly, because I wasn't that far into utilizing alcohol as a crutch—and instead turned to the companionship of strangers, rather than the familiar Jack Daniels or his partner Jimmy Beam.

Companionship has many forms.

For myself, it meant going to the local bar and having a drink or two just to be seen… to be a visible part of the community.

It allowed myself to being approached by the Japanese guys who just wanted to chat and try out their English-language skills for free, or by the Japanese women who just wanted to chat and try out my gaijin sex skills for free.

I preferred the latter, being a horn dog, but I did learn a lot about the Japanese people from those free English lessons, many of which I have written previously here.

From the women… I just wanted sex… and since they just wanted sex, too, it was a win-win scenario.

Each of us used the other for a mutual beneficial relationship. Me, for fake-female companionship; they to satisfy their internationalization curiosity with the nice foreigner who had a large bed and air-conditioning—though, I am sure neither of those things played a role in the roll.

I suppose it is possible that all of those women who wanted to mess around were also looking to feel good about themselves… that someone found them attractive… I don't know… I wasn't stupid enough to ask "Why" we were having sex.

Don't YOU want somebody to love? Don't you need somebody to love? Wouldn't you love somebody to love? You better find somebody to love.

I wanted to be wanted… to be loved… to feel like I made a difference… I want sex and candy, but... it was just me initially masking my depression from losing Ashley.

I'm sure it's why I slipped easily into a relationship with Junko, who had far too many issues of her own. Seriously, that whole 50 shades of grey crap? Been there, done that. Many people have. It's not like it's a new thing.

Before and after Junko, there were a lot of women… both Japanese and foreign AETs (assistant English teachers). I didn't discriminate, though in hindsight, I probably should have been more discriminating.

But I wanted more… a real relationship with a real woman… I needed a Noboko. I just didn't have her yet.

And in the meantime… I was filling the void with bouts of meaningless sex.

I'd rather have sex with meaning…

I know, I know… many of you are looking at me sideways… to just shut the eff up and stop whining about having sex. I'm not whining.

I make no apologies for it. I'm just providing what I believe is a reasonable explanation for my behavior.

I'd like you to know, however, that after each one-night or two-night stand, I would be happy… but my mood would flip dark when I realized it wasn't really what I wanted after all.

So… does that explain all the plethora of sexcapades in these blogs?

With Ashley… with Junko… the anonymous others… even with Noboko?

I'm not going to psychoanalyze myself any further than I have.

But… to quote the Eurythmics from their 1983 song "Sweet Dreams":

Sweet dreams are made of these
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something

Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused

Or, if you prefer, Radiohead's song "Just":

You do it to yourself, you do
And that's what really hurts
Is that you do it to yourself
Just you and no one else
You do it to yourself
You do it to yourself

If there is one lesson we can take from all of this, it's to stop listening to music.

Holy crap. If I listened to Beck's "Loser" or the Offspring's "Self-Esteem" or Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath" I'd probably need to find someone to screw my brains out to escape the malaise.

When I first started writing fiction back in Japan circa 1990, I loved to write wacky comedic short stories (Rob has read all of those, and is perhaps the only one) - and they just poured from wherever it came from in my brain... it was easy - several 1500-word stories a day. All was good.

But when my mood changed after all the women troubles, my writing became darker. No comedy... just 'drama', for lack of a better word. But it certainly was darker...

While I loved the comedy stuff, it was obvious that the better-written materials were not of the comedic variety. Which made me angry, sad, not happy. And it got better and better.

Here's the thing... I'd rather not suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and would actively change my mood to affect how I wrote. But, my writing didn't suffer as my mood grew light, rather I saw the light. No, not religion, but rather all it took was more writing - practice. I've got over 15,000 hours of practice in writing in just the past 10 years.

But what I write about is still determined by mood. Writing about myself and the end of my days in Japan is difficult for me. The memories are good... they come flooding back, and I can see, hear, smell, taste... even feel everything again on my skin... but the introspective ability gained by looking back makes me want to travel back in time like The Flash, to the early 1990s and just slap myself. That's why it's tough... and that's why I'm taking so long in finishing my tale... if it even finishes. I just don't want to come to the end of it all. I suppose that's why I created this blog back in 2009. Writers gotta write, right?

Tomorrow, we're going to flashback two years prior to Noboko… relax… it's just for another day… it's a side trip, and it's cheaper than psychoanalysis.

build me up Buttercup,
Andrew Joseph
Worst mix tape ever.
Image at the top is of the standard theater masks depicting comedy and tragedy. Comedy is on the right.

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