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.
On tumblr or off tumblr, be well. Come back if you need us, but keep powering up the never-ending steps of life that encircle each of our souls.
Sometimes, it sucks. Why? Because, life.
But still… This world is beautiful.
My thoughts are always with you.
Edit: He’s back ;) Same URL as before.
I sometimes wonder how I was raised to become such an emotional being by such an (*cough*emotionless*cough*) logical mother in a single parent household.
I sent her the quote in the image above, which roughly translates to: “You are the abundance that makes my fruit [plump], the thoughts that run from my blood… You are the warm emotions that I clench my hand around in my dreams.” It was a line from a poem that someone had used during their confession that I found sweet. I don’t think it translates quite as well in English, but alas.
Anyway, my mother’s response?
"Such flowery language [in a derogatory way]! I have no feelings after reading this. I think actions [typo] are much more realistic. I don’t buy ephemeral thoughts expressed through literature."
I can accept failure, but I cannot accept never trying my hardest
在向你表白的男生當中, 我不是最英俊的, 也不是最優秀的, 才藝也不是最多的. 但有一點我可以肯定的是…
Out of all the boys who have confessed to you, I am not the most handsome, the most exceptional, or the most talented. However, there is one point I am absolutely certain of…
I am the one who liked you the most.
You will forever be the person I want to spend my whole life with. Anywhere where you are is home.
你一直都說你像韓劇裏的男二號, 但是在我心裏, 你永遠都是男主角. 我能為你做的第一件事就是時時刻刻把你放在心上, 因為你是我一生的摯愛.
You have always said that you are like the supporting actor in a Korean drama, but in my heart, you will forever be the male lead. The first thing I can do for you is to place you unfailingly in my heart, because you are the love of my life.
其實我知道愛你不止十個理由. 然而愛你又不需要那麼多理由? 其實有一個就足夠了…
I actually know that loving you isn’t restricted to ten reasons alone, but does loving you require very many? One should already be enough…
I love you.
只要你愿意, 我愿意給你想要的一切. 即使有一天你不再需要我了, 我會默默地在遠處看著你, 不去打擾你的生活. 只要你能幸福…
If you let me, I am willing to give you everything you have ever wanted. Even if you no longer need me one day, I will silently watch over you from afar and will not interrupt your life. The only thing I need is your happiness…
Paraphrased from Ai Meng.
I may be the truest emotional masochist of them all. No more romance for the next little while.
I met up with #8 on Friday. I’m done romantically doting over boys for the next little while, and I will provide a piece of closure in regards to #3 sometime soon. I probably won’t see 8 ever again, but it was nice debating (white) privilege with him for the afternoon. According to him, this is a favourite topic among CBCs. All in all, I don’t think he understood the concept, even though he claimed otherwise. He was conflating economic privilege with the inherent advantages of a certain skin colour and claiming that I was silencing the lived experience of white people who had it economically harder than me (I wasn’t).
I never had a Native classmate growing up, even though portions of their varied histories played a large part in our province-wide mandated (standardized) curriculum. I do remember that, outside of the classroom, portions of their identity were mocked though. It was somehow funny how one of my biracial Japanese/Indian classmates ‘looked Native.’ In university, I became good friends with one of the individuals who pioneered the Indigenous Studies minor at the school and she posted a great article about how NOT to respond to indigenous experiences of racism in Canada, though I think this applies south of the border as well.
I always like reading through the comments sections of these pieces and rolling my eyes.
In response to this comment written by ‘CloakedInPureEvil’:
…I still don’t see how I’m to blame for the acts of past or even present politicians. The only way to place blame on me is based solely on the color of my skin, and that is precisely why I resent these blanket race-based claims of racism.
I feel like this is meant to guilt trip me into doing or advocating things on behalf of another race that I wouldn’t even advocate on behalf of my own because, well, I find them fundamentally racist! I don’t feel like that’s helping anything. I feel more helpful when I hold other races to the same standard as my own, (which I initially thought was their gripe in the first place!) so if I don’t mind a mascot called The Fighting Irish…wouldn’t being outraged at “Redskins” (which to my generation carries more mystique and awe than any other connotation) be a racist attitude for me to adopt?
… There was a reply that was much more sound, by a certain ‘WhiteMouse’:
It’s about a power imbalance. The Irish long ago achieved a degree of whiteness and privilege in North American society.
Recognizing privilege isn’t about telling white people they are bad. It’s about acknowledging that white people face fewer barriers because the system has favoured them over hundreds of years. The fact is that people are RACIALIZED in our society and in the context of systemic racism the colour of their skin affects their experiences of the world. Suddenly pretending that everyone is equal actually doesn’t make it so, but it does help to silence and erase the real life experiences of people of colour. That’s why recognizing that people’s experiences and privileges/disadvantages are affected by the colour of their skin (whether we like it or not) is the first step to correcting that imbalance.
As for appropriation of indigenous culture, if you don’t know why it’s fucked up then imagine this…
Imagine someone came to your home, and stole it.
Imagine that to do so, they pointed guns at you, and took it by force.
Imagine that they infected you with deadly diseases on purpose.
Imagine that they tricked you, and destroyed all of your food so that you would need their money and you would be forced to sell them your land.
Imagine that when they bought it they made you sign a contract, under coercion.
Imagine that they violated that contract, again and again, because they could.
Imagine that they outlawed your culture, and way of life.
Imagine that they took your children, and tried to make them just like them, and abused them and performed heinous experiments on them, and then tried to cover it up.
Imagine that they poisoned your water, and tried to take more of your land than they already had.
Imagine that, when you resisted, they pointed more guns at you, and threw you in jail.
Imagine they just threw you in jail in general, and criminalized you, and discriminated against you.
Imagine that they tried to tell you this was all your fault.
Imagine that they took pieces of your culture, the very culture they had fought so hard to destroy, and imagine that they claimed it for their own and ripped it of its meaning, and stereotyped it, and made a profit from it.
Maybe you would be a little upset too?