— Tyler Knott Gregson (via jhbrd)
1. Accept that you will never really understand your INFJ. If it were possible for anyone to 100% understand any INFJ, an INFJ would have wrote a book on it by now. But the truth is, even we INFJs can’t completely understand ourselves, so we don’t expect you to. But we can tell when you’re…
Truths. Life ain’t easy for us, but we wouldn’t have it any other way
I wasn’t going to write this publically, but while I was doing food prep, the song that I associate with the star of this story came onto the radio. I took it as a sign.
Sasha and I met in the first year of university… The first day, in fact, when my Thai roommate brought her into our room for a thorough Febreeze-ing session. I quickly learned that she was the ringleader of her trio of privileged, Toronto private-school girlfriends. Although she lived three doors down from me, I did not think much of her during the first semester for a combination of reasons. I found her outward persona off-putting (I found it fake), she became fast friends with my Thai roommate who I found equally fake, I had this to deal with, and I was still acclimating to university life. Something about the way she expressed herself didn’t quite sit right with me, but I thought that perhaps I was projecting my ideals of behaviour too strongly. Like the waxing and waning of the tides though, my relationship with her slowly improved as time marched forward.
The Biology lab we had together in second semester served to cement our relationship as friends and friends we became. Over the next three years, few days passed where we did not communicate. I was the first gay friend she had; this was significant, given her pretty secluded, strict Christian upbringing. Exposure to me and my barrage of love interests during university ensured that she became extremely tolerant, if not completely accepting, of the fabled residents of Sodom. As our friendship continued, my initial misgivings about Sasha began to bubble again. I wondered about the emotional depth that she invested in our relationship and even asked her point blank about it. But after her denials of my misgivings, I always gave her the benefit of the doubt…
Then came the final semester of my senior year. A plethora of reasons had me jaded about school at that point, but I was also poisoned by my torturous living situation. I sometimes kid that I suffer from PTSD from those last two years of being stuck with the same toxic roommate, but most jokes contain some truths. It became so bad that I felt like my only option away from her was to leave university by withdrawing from all my classes, deferring my degree, and leaving the city for a semester. In the culmination of my unhappiness, I needed someone. The first person I called was Sasha. There was no answer. She texted that she was in class, and I followed up with a message that read, “I feel like absolute shit right now.” I never wrote things to her that read like that, especially not when they were accompanied by a call and no context. I didn’t expect her to leave her class to call me back, but when the clock ran one hour ahead, two hours ahead, three hours… I began to lose hope and the depression spiralled. Four years at this school. Nobody I felt comfortable enough discussing my current problem with. How pathetic, I told myself, as I started dialling back to Vancouver. As I was lying on my too-soft mattress nine hours later, my phone lit up the room, her name boldly announced on the screen. I looked over at it with empty eyes and let it run its course.
I was still foolishly optimistic the next morning. Maybe Sasha would reach out to me. This was my own test, in a way. I was tired of being the one initiating everything between us. One week passed. Nothing. Two weeks. Nothing. The weeks stretched into months of zero communication. The funny part? I actually swallowed all of my pride I had left between us and started talking to her. Every time, her first reply would read something along the lines of, “Where have you beennnn?” I couldn’t take these slaps to my face anymore. Sasha, if you had wanted to know where I’d been, all you had to do was reach out and show me that somehow, I had crossed your mind or that you had actually been concerned about me. I gave up. Three years later, I burned that bridge. I should have never doubted my initial instincts, even as she questioned how I could give up on ‘us’ so easily. Ironic, as she gave up just as easily after one short, half-hearted Facebook message.
So… Why this story? You remember how I met up with #3 for cake two weeks ago, post-romantic feelings? He knew of you, generally, and I told him this, “This year has been such a mess so far. There aren’t very many people in this world who make me feel secure, but he does, and I think that’s the best thing that has come out of 2014 so far.” We both trust our intuition, but after some experiences (Sasha being one of them), I do now more than ever. I dote on moments of transience and ephemeral beauty, but I hope those descriptors never come to characterize our relationship. I know that trying to keep someone too close can lead to an opposite effect, so I’ll try to never smother you. But know this: I am the antithesis to Sasha. I hope I will never make you question or doubt my sentiments. I never expected Sasha to leave her class when I needed her the most, but I will carve out a niche for you no matter how busy I get. As much as we both esteem pretty words, time will give mine substance and then they won’t just be words anymore. Always proud of you.
I recently finished an intensive summer Japanese course that jam packed one semester’s worth of material into ten days of class. Even though I eventually ended up with a decent grade, I would not recommend the experience to anyone unless subjugated to a completely immersive environment. Language learning is meant to be a gradual process of absorption and reinforcement rather than a forced drowning. I suppose my life was made infinitesimally easier by the fact that I had the same teacher over two semesters, so I knew her marking style and exactly what she expected (perfection). Having said this, I’ve also had the opportunity to observe my teacher over two semesters and one of thoughtsfromthewalkhome’s recent posts triggered something I’d like to share.
Learning Japanese from my professor has been an extremely interesting experience, as I’ve had the chance to see the concept of tatemae, or one’s ‘public persona,’ played out in real life. Though nice, polite, and helpful, my professor also holds a very strong professional distance that I’ve felt since the first week of class with her. How can I describe this… Her expressions are careful, her emotions are restrained, and she rarely lets her true feelings about anything shine through. These past ten days have finally shown me a part of my professor I thought I would never see though, her honne.
The first time started innocently enough. A few of my classmates and I were practicing for our oral exam before class began and we were throwing around random topics for discussion. At one point, the topic got to whether we liked Japanese anime. I proceeded to confidently yell out, “はい。私は処女が大好きです。” (Yes. I LOVE [female] virgins.) What I had been trying to say was, “はい。私は少女アニメが大好きです。” (Yes. I love love-centred anime.) I swear it was an accident. One long vowel and dropping a word can make all the difference, ladies and gentlemen. At that point, my teacher and I both nearly died- my teacher, from being doubled over with tears of amusement streaming down the side of her face, and me, from the mortifying embarrassment and realization of what I had just professed.
The second incident occurred when my professor was talking about the 2011 Touhoku earthquake. As a part of a continuing act of support, the department of East Asian studies at UBC paired up with the Japanese consulate to film messages of sympathy from current language students. My professor kindly requested us to participate in this venture, but in the middle of describing the earthquake and putting up PowerPoint slides of the disaster, she started dry heaving and turned away from the class. In the span of the next five minutes, she attempted but could not bring herself to continue with her speech. Instead, she turned away, wiped away her tears, and gave us slight bows coupled with utterances of “すみません” (sorry). From what I understood, she had no direct connection to the disasters in Northeastern Japan. What my classmates and I observed was a powerful display of what overwhelming love for one’s country looked like.
Seeing emotion from teachers is nothing new to me, but everything considered, these rare glimpses behind the professional façade of this particular professor just made her seem a lot more human to me. I suppose the way I delineated people as fake or real in the past could have been unfair, but then again, who knows. Maybe they were just fake for shits and giggles.
When you become so fixated on one thing that it tinges the breath that you exhale from your mouth as you sleep, you know that there is a problem. For me, it was not with money or with school, but with loneliness. I had always thought myself to be a solitary-hardy creature, capable of withstanding loneliness as long as I had some friends around. I had always wanted to experience independence and could not wait to get away from the restraints of my domineering parents as soon as I graduated from high school. However, I had very little knowledge of how unprepared I was to leave the warm safety net that they had offered me.
I never had a problem making friends and it just seemed so natural having people I could trust around me. I was completely unprepared for the highly transient ‘friendships’ formed in my university life. I found myself frantically clinging onto memories of superficial smiles and niceties from my friends that were merely civilities. I began to question myself. Was there something fundamentally wrong with me? I kept overestimating friendships and believing stronger bonds to exist between me and the person in question at the time than substantiated by reality. This recurring cycle took place over and over. Was I overanalyzing? When a dog sees the raised hand of its master and knows that a beating is coming, will it not know to lower its head and scurry the other way after a few instances of abuse? I found myself unable to trust anymore. At the first glimmer of friendship, I would question and question. It was just the little things - the broken skype dates, the empty promises, or the unreturned affections. I was someone so easily forgotten.
Even with my established circle of friends in university, I often found myself logically assessing our relationships. What would X do in this case? If I died, I wonder how emotionally affected X would be? Every time, the answers would come back in a recurring and predictable pattern: Your presence in their lives is merely one of convenience. But was I expecting too much? I wonder if they like me as much as I like them? Doesn’t everyone want a reasonable return on their investment, no matter what form the payment comes in? I invested and invested, but kept losing and losing. I even started to feel the meat of my sanity being forcefully cut away from my bones.
My friends back home. My dear friends. I would not have questioned these ties in the past, but paranoia drives one to extremes. What were my ties to them, exactly? Everyone had become busy and even though I’d like to believe that our ties of friendship run deep enough that contact needs not be frequent, what does a complete absence of it say? I found myself incessantly talking about one of my friends in particular, whether in conversations with myself or with others that knew him. We had spent a great deal of our adolescence together and although we had had our highs and lows, I had held him extremely close to my heart. But any efforts were useless. I found myself uselessly clawing in the dark, trying to grab a hold of the fabric that made him up – some of the fabric that completed what I had thought to be me, my personhood and identity. But as I looked down at my silhouette, this piece of fabric started discolouring and the stitches that held it to me were mercilessly pulled out one by one. All I could do was hold onto it now, but as I tried to reattach it to myself, it started dissolving, faster… Faster. I looked at the specks of light that this dissolved fabric had become, dispersing and floating away from me in my pitch black world. I stood there, crying out to the wind and offering penance. Blow them back this way, back to me! But it was not to be. His scent, something that I had known so well in my past, only lingered in the air above me, settling down in a fading cascade. It eventually became a dull pain – a wound that would never properly heal, never to become a scar as a reminder, but as a form of suffering that was prone to re-infection and agony.
But as I was on my knees, waiting to be engulfed by the hard, frozen earth around me, someone appeared in my life to offer me solace.
Ironically, I had first seen the person who would eventually save me while the individual who was threatening to wrench me of my sanity was temporarily visiting and staying with me on his way to school. I was sitting alone in a psychology class before it was set to start, drawing petals falling off a dead rose on the edge of my notebook and periodically glancing up at the people streaming into the classroom. The flurry of faces that passed by usually merged together into a mass, eventually becoming impossible to differentiate. But occasionally, I would take note of a particularly attractive, odd, or interesting visage, letting my eyes rest on it for a second longer than I normally would. The classically attractive people, or at least the people who thought they were attractive, usually had a collected confidence hidden behind their gaze. I was particularly intrigued by any anomalies to this norm or any drastically unattractive person; I would wonder about their potential life stories, their suffering, or their plans for the future.
How funny that I should have noticed him then. It hadn’t been difficult to initially spot him, considering how he had towered over the girl who he was walking beside. As he looked up into the row of seats and scanned the room for available spaces, I noted his beautiful soft features while slightly recoiling. It had not been his height or even his appearance that had made an impression, plenty of people could have fit that bill. There was something in his gaze that did not completely sit right with me. I probably stared a bit longer than I should have, but there was no way he could have noticed in an auditorium that seated upwards of two hundred and fifty people. This hadn’t been the first time that I had seen a handsome stranger with a questionable gaze, so why? Maybe it was a combination of my former friend’s physical presence in the city with my soul’s resounding loneliness. Regardless of what it was, I wanted to know more. As he walked up the steps towards where I was seated, I rested my head in the palm of my right hand, pretending to stare out into space while focusing all my attention on him. His features became clearer and clearer due to his increasing physical proximity to me - this boy… Was so ridiculously cute, but his eyes. Oh, his eyes were expressing so much pain. What was he doing in class? What was he going through right now? I wanted to know so much about this complete stranger and my burning curiosity was piqued.
In front of me, I heard a little scream that momentarily diverted my attention away from the sad-eyed stranger. A meaty blonde haired girl with a half removed winter coat had dropped her coffee mug while attempting to hold a Blackberry in the same hand. The steel mug began rolling down the stairs, the embossed ‘McGill’ in martlet red circling around and around. I watched its progress and realized it was on a collision course with the stranger’s foot. It seemed that he noticed it a second too late, his eyes momentarily widening as the coffee seeped through his grey jeans. I heard some people stifling giggles of nervousness while looking at the horrified expression on the clumsy girl’s face. Although I saw a flash of annoyance, he promptly kneeled down and picked up the girl’s mug, handing it back to her amidst prolific amount of apologies. He assured her that it was okay, flashing a warm smile before she started to calm down.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw that smile, but his eyes had remained the same- so, so sad. It was like hearing superficial congratulations with all the right words uttered, although free from the warmth behind true feeling. As he continued walking up the stairs, I saw his face revert to the same expression he had worn upon first entering the classroom. When he passed by me, I tried giving a sympathetic smile, but all I got in return was the same cold gaze he had been wearing. It had hurt more than I had expected it to, considering the fact that he was a complete stranger.
I had looked forward to going to my psychology class the rest of the semester, not because I was enthralled with the course material, but because I had wanted to observe my new-found interest. Throughout the rest of the semester, although his sad gaze never dispersed, it had softened. Where he would remain stiff lipped during any jokes the professor made at the beginning of the semester, they would occasionally curve up at the corners and make my pulse race towards the end of the term. Rather than closing my eyes and letting the laughter carelessly escape from me during a joke, I would look over to where he was sitting, wondering if he had found it amusing as well. I had been tempted to strike a conversation with him, but how would I go about doing it in a socially acceptable manner? There was no possible answer. People do not just go up to strangers and start talking in a 250 head count undergraduate class after half a semester. I had to be content in following the story of a gaze that I hardly knew how to interpret.
That winter, prior the traditional period of hibernation before final exams, a friend of mine invited me to go watch one of the university’s accapella groups with her. Having lived with several musicians on my floor when I lived in the university’s dormitories, I knew the calibre of McGill’s choirs and bands to be quite high. Armed with this knowledge, wanting a diversion before a non-stop period of revision, and needing an excuse to dress up, I readily accepted the invitation. That night, braving both the temperatures that had plunged 30 below and the ice-lined streets, I warily navigated up into Montreal’s plateau district, where the show was being held. We were among the first set of people who arrived and as we approached the doors of the venue, I heard a harmony of voices in the distance, dancing in tandem with the icy cold wind blowing into my face.
We eagerly took our seats and sunk into the plush red chairs, nursing our red and potentially frostbitten ears as the room slowly filled with people. Before I knew it, a statuesque girl with a beautiful face announced the beginning of that night’s acapella show. My eyes adjusted to the brightness of the stage as the lights overhead were dimmed. I closed my eyes and mouthed along to the Amy Winehouse song that the group opened the show with. In the background, behind the voices of the female singers, I heard some vocal beat boxing and smiled. I was quite impressed with this group and made a mental note that I should frequent these events more often. I had an uncanny feeling that there was something familiar about the people performing - but how could this be? I had never joined any musically related extracurricular clubs since coming to university. I scanned the program but no names seemed familiar to me, so I reasoned that I must have seen some of these people in my classes at one point or another. However, about 40 minutes into the show, right before the intermission, I suddenly sat forward in my seat, staring intently at the small group on the stage. In the leaflet, it introduced the song as one that was written and arranged by the newest members of the acapella group. I was captivated, not necessarily because of the song, but because of who was standing right there in front of me, holding the microphone, and singing his heart out on the stage.
It was him. It was sad-eyes-psychology-boy that I had frequently observed throughout the semester. Why hadn’t I noticed him before? I had definitely been close enough to the stage to make out the facial features of the singers, but I guess he had been in the back the entire time and I had been more engrossed with the music than with any particular person. But those eyes… They were different tonight. As his beautiful, smooth voice escaped from his lips, I saw his half-closed eyes liberated from the oppressive melancholy that had so characterized them during the semester. I instantly wondered if singing was his solace or whether it made him forget about that ‘thing’ that made him so sad. I realized I was completely still and silent during the entire performance, remaining still when the lights came on for intermission. My friend, Vivian, tugged at my sleeve, wondering if I wanted to go outside into the atrium for some food. I told her to go ahead without me as I was feeling unwell. In truth, I couldn’t comprehend my own emotions. What I felt was a mixture of happiness (knowing that he was relieved of sadness) and most of all, intrigue. I wanted to know about this person. As Vivian got up to leave for the kiosk, I rapidly thumbed through the program, searching for this person’s name. There it was. At last, I could put a name to this mysterious person: Menahem. I spent the rest of the show feeling like a complete stalker, not focusing on the music at large, but the singular sound that Menahem was producing. I was enthralled and in my quasi-religious state, enjoyed the music even more.
That night, instead of sleeping or studying academic material, I ended up going on Facebook and gleaning all the little tidbits of info that I could from his profile. I felt like a stalker, but my guilt didn’t stop me. I figured that most people did it to individuals they were interested in anyway; I was just one of the few who were candid enough to admit it, albeit through a semi-private internet blog. I guess this wasn’t the first time I had experienced something like this before. I had done my fair share of ‘stalking’ in the past, so I did not give this incident much of a thought. In fact, I had never again consciously thought of Menahem after my final exams in the December of 2010. I am convinced that it may have been a phase, had fate not decided to work in its mysterious ways…
With one of my best friends. Hilarity ensued. We’re separated by hours and hours, now that he’s away from home for the foreseeable future, but he always manages to make me smile.
"Sneaky gay submarine." I died.
Chiune Sugihara. This man saved 6000 Jews. He was a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania. When the Nazis began rounding up Jews, Sugihara risked his life to start issuing unlawful travel visas to Jews. He hand-wrote them 18 hrs a day. The day his consulate closed and he had to evacuate, witnesses claim he was STILL writing visas and throwing from the train as he pulled away. He saved 6000 lives. The world didn’t know what he’d done until Israel honored him in 1985, the year before he died.
Why can’t we have a movie about him?
He was often called “Sempo”, an alternative reading of the characters of his first name, as that was easier for Westerners to pronounce.
His wife, Yukiko, was also a part of this; she is often credited with suggesting the plan. The Sugihara family was held in a Soviet POW camp for 18 months until the end of the war; within a year of returning home, Sugihara was asked to resign - officially due to downsizing, but most likely because the government disagreed with his actions.
He didn’t simply grant visas - he granted visas against direct orders, after attempting three times to receive permission from the Japanese Foreign Ministry and being turned down each time. He did not “misread” orders; he was in direct violation of them, with the encouragement and support of his wife.
He was honoured as Righteous Among the Nations in 1985, a year before he died in Kamakura; he and his descendants have also been granted permanent Israeli citizenship. He was also posthumously awarded the Life Saving Cross of Lithuania (1993); Commander’s Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (1996); and the Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta (2007). Though not canonized, some Eastern Orthodox Christians recognize him as a saint.
Sugihara was born in Gifu on the first day of 1900, January 1. He achieved top marks in his schooling; his father wanted him to become a physician, but Sugihara wished to pursue learning English. He deliberately failed the exam by writing only his name and then entered Waseda, where he majored in English. He joined the Foreign Ministry after graduation and worked in the Manchurian Foreign Office in Harbin (where he learned Russian and German; he also converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church during this time). He resigned his post in protest over how the Japanese government treated the local Chinese citizens. He eventually married Yukiko Kikuchi, who would suggest and encourage his acts in Lithuania; they had four sons together. Chiune Sugihara passed away July 31, 1986, at the age of 86. Until her own passing in 2008, Yukiko continued as an ambassador of his legacy.
It is estimated that the Sugiharas saved between 6,000-10,000 Lithuanian and Polish Jewish people.