Celebrating the 8th Anniversary of My Marriage

Taka and Jessica 2

This is a picture of me and my husband from our early days of courtship.  I had flown over to Japan to meet his family, who were incredibly sweet and welcoming.  I was a huge otaku at the time, so it had always been a dream of mine to visit Japan.  I might talk about it in a later post, or maybe I already did?  I’m blonde and six feet tall, so everyone stared at me like I was an alien 😄  They would openly comment about me assuming I didn’t speak Japanese.  I didn’t, but my husband (boyfriend at the time) did.

I met him when I was 17 years old.  We were both going to the same college, and I saw him sitting at the lunch counter.  I was taking Japanese, so I put that book on top and sat next to him, hoping he would notice and it would start a conversation.  Well, it worked 😄  I’m shy and socially awkward, so I’m glad he was the one to initiate a conversation.  We started dating shortly after that.  He was my first real boyfriend because I didn’t date in high school.  We broke up about three years after dating, and then got back together, and got married about a year after rekindling our relationship.

I was anorexic when we first met.  You’ll notice in the pic I am wearing a coat because I was always freezing.  We’ve been together for over 10 years and in that time period I’ve had two bouts of anorexia, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, hypothyroidism (now treated), three hip preservation surgeries, debilitating chronic pain from multiple joints, and an Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome diagnosis.  There have been some tough years.  Living with someone that has a physical and/or mental illness is exhausting.  He didn’t always believe me (no one but my sister and closest friends did), but now he does.  Our relationship is in a good place now 🙂

He came into my life when I hated myself so much I wanted to disappear.  I remember thinking God sent him to be my guardian angel because he helped me through so much.  I don’t know if I still believe that, but I feel lucky we were both in the cafeteria at the same time on that particular day.  We’ve both changed a lot since we first met, but we’ve grown closer together again 🙂  We’ve both become better people, at least in my opinion.  Growing up I used to think that I would marry someone who was a tortured soul like me, but he’s pretty much the opposite.  Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you are older, at least I didn’t.

The Story of How I Met My Husband

Jessica7aA Picture of me and My Husband at our Engagement Dinner 7 years ago

I blacked out my husband’s face because he doesn’t want to appear on my blog 😄  So today is my 7th wedding anniversary.  I actually got married pretty young.  I was in my early 20s, just before I started grad school.  I don’t think any marriage is easy.  I know ours hasn’t been.  I was relatively healthy when we got married.  I think when most people say, “For Better or Worse,” as part of their wedding vows they don’t really understand what they are committing to.  When we got married, I had no idea that two years later my joints would start rapidly deteriorating and I would relapse into anorexia.  I was not the same person my husband married mentally or physically.  Every year my health kept getting worse, and I didn’t even have a diagnosis for what was wrong.

It’s definitely not easy to live with someone that has a chronic illness.  To say that it’s hard on a relationship would be an understatement, and I don’t mean to undermine his struggles.  He had to give up some of his dreams for me, and there was a period where he had to mourn the loss of what our relationship used to be.  I’ve seen so many men leave their wives or girlfriends because they have hip problems or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and they just can’t deal with it.  It’s really tough.  I feel lucky that I married a man that loved me even when I didn’t love myself.  I’ll give him a fake Japanese name, Haru, to protect his identity.  He isn’t perfect, and he’s been a jerk at times, but so have I.  I think loving someone in spite of their flaws is part of what makes a relationship stand the test of time.  We are all inherently flawed because it’s the nature of humanity.  But in a good relationship (friendship, sibling, romantic) both people bring out the best in each other, and it’s a win-win situation.

We’ve both grown a lot in the past seven years of our marriage and for the better.  A few months ago a geneticist diagnosed me with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic disorder causing defective collagen.  My husband finally realized I wasn’t being melodramatic about my health, and that I have debilitating chronic pain.  He finally made the effort to try to understand. We hardly fight now even though we are still dealing with a lot of difficult things, such as cultural barriers, intimacy issues (having bad hips makes that difficult), and my massive student loan debt from grad school.  And then there are things we used to take for granted, like bowling, camping, exercising, hiking, walking, and traveling.  It’s difficult for me to do these things because my body is so fragile.  But we watch movies together and play video games, which we both enjoy.  We are nice to each other, and we both thank each other when we do the chores.  I do most of them currently because I’m not working, but he still thanks me for cooking dinner and doing the dishes.  I thank him when he does chores as well.  Also, my health is on the upswing now, so we’re both pretty thrilled about that and the fact I can work soon 8D

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about how we met 😄  I’ve mentioned before that I have a soft spot in my heart for Asian guys, especially Japanese men.  It’s ironic given my height of 6’0″, lol.  For those that are curious, my husband is only an inch shorter than me, so he’s pretty tall for a Japanese guy.  I was taking a Japanese language class at the time.  We both went to the same community college.  I was in the cafeteria and saw him sitting at the counter with a friend.  He was wearing an orange shirt and blue windbreaker pants.  I am actually really shy around people I don’t know.  So I put my Japanese language book on top of the stuff I was carrying, and sat down next to him, hoping he would notice.  I pretended to study.  Within like 30 seconds he struck up a conversation with me.  I think his opening line was, “Are you taking Japanese?” 😄  We really hit it off despite the fact that his English wasn’t that great at the time, and my ability to speak Japanese was almost non-existent.  He’s fluent in both now, but I can’t imagine how hard it was for him to move to another country, and take college classes in a foreign language.

He was such a nice guy and treated me like a princess while we were dating.  We were friends for a bit, and finally we started going out.  I think he told me he loved me about a week after we started dating 😄  He was my first boyfriend since I didn’t date anyone in high school.  I ended up breaking up with him shortly after I transferred to UC Berkeley.  He was at another college, so our relationship turned into a long distance one.  I was changing so much at the time and didn’t know what I wanted.  I was recovering from my anorexia only to develop hypothyroidism (which was diagnosed 2 years later).    We remained friends, but he was still very hurt.  He was looking to move because there were too many memories of me here, and he couldn’t take it.  I’m tearing up talking about this ;____;  I went out with several guys at UC Berkeley, most of them jerks.  I really missed Haru, and we rekindled our romance.  Within like 2-3 months of getting back together we got engaged, and six months later we were married.  His mother was worried about our marriage, and I completely understood.  She had only met me once in Japan, and I was anorexic, so I was struggling with my own demons at the time.  His family is so loving and caring.  I knew she just wanted what was best for her son.  She has been very caring and supportive since our marriage.  I wish his family lived closer so I could spend the holidays with them :$

So yeah, that’s it.  I wouldn’t have had a problem meeting guys on Match.com.  I did try eHarmony while me and Haru were broken up, and it said that they couldn’t find anyone compatible for me.  My roommate and I laughed so hard at that XDDDDDDD  I definitely feel lucky to be married to Haru.  I’m writing him a card, and we are going out to dinner tonight.  I’m looking forward to it 😀  We don’t usually get each other gifts.  Sometimes we do, but it’s usually something small.  I don’t really need a gift from him to prove how much he loves me.  The fact that cleaned the cats’ litterbox for 10 weeks while I was recovering from my last hip surgery proves it 😄

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A recent picture of me and Haru

Otaku Confessions: How I Became Interested in Japan

I talked with my sister about the fact that my blog is kind of all over the place.  I have a very hard time compartmentalizing my life as “health issues,” “writing,” “life,” etc. I realize I probably will never have that many readers because of this, but this is who I am.  I don’t know, maybe at some point I’ll create entirely separate blogs for my various interests.

Another part of my identity is that of an otaku.  And this term has a different meaning in America than it does in Japan.  In Japan it roughly translates to nerd.  In America the word otaku specifically refers to someone who is into Japanese anime, culture, video games, music, etc. and who may, or may not, also be a nerd.  My husband has told me that he doesn’t want his friends or family to know that I’m an otaku.  It embarrasses him.  And I get that I suppose.  Even in America the term otaku carries a bit of a stigma.  My husband is a Japanese citizen and being a nerd isn’t particularly a cool thing to be, not in Japan at least.  America has sort of glamorized the role of the nerd, and it has cultivated its own subculture.  I think the recent popularity of shows like, “Big Bang Theory,” proves my point.  Another part of it is that America is gradually shedding the nerd stereotype, but that is still a work in progress.  People often assume that I’m a certain person based on the way I look (got to love stereotypes) and an attractive woman can’t be a nerd or be obsessed with video games.  Maybe I’ll write an entry about that someday because this is a big problem for women gamers, and the fact that guys don’t take us seriously.  I’ll post a picture of me below. . .

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This is a picture of me, a self-identified otaku and nerd

Before I say anything more about this, I will say that I am an American woman married to a Japanese citizen and we live in America.  My husband spent the first 18 years of his life in Japan, so he is a lot more qualified to speak about Japan than I am.  And it would be unfair of me to base the entirety of Japan’s culture on my husband.  I realize that he is only one person from a country of about 130 million, so sometimes I take his opinion with a grain of salt.  If I ever say anything that seems way off, please let me know.  It’s not my intent to offend anyone with these posts or to be judgmental or culturally ignorant.  I’ll admit that I am no expert by any means on Japan’s intricate culture.  Hell, I wouldn’t even call myself an expert on America’s culture 😄  I guess this series is more about my experiences and thoughts as an American looking in on Japan from the outside.  I’ve been to Japan a few times as well and have a few friends there.  My husband’s whole family lives there as well.

I’d say my interest in Japan started from an early age.  I was a very avid video game player starting with the NES, which we got when I was five.  It was the SNES and the introduction of Final Fantasy II that was a turning point in my young life.  The story was so amazing, and I fell in love with the characters.  I knew that the game came from Japan, as did many other awesome role-playing games that I played as a kid like Final Fantasy III, VII, IX, Secret of Mana, etc.  Because of this I came to think of Japan as this magical land of video games.  As I grew older my obsession with video games continued to grow.  My husband and I currently own a PS3, Wii, PSP, and Gameboy DS currently.  We are waiting to purchase the PS4 until Final Fantasy 15 comes out, if it ever does.  I love to watch video games almost as much as I enjoy playing them.  I’d say that I’m more into video games than my husband, but he still enjoys them quite a bit.

I was introduced to anime at 12 years old, and I think this is a more popular foray into Japan’s culture.  I’m not trying to say that anime is representative of Japan’s culture, more like otakus become interested and/or obsessed with Japan after their introduction to anime.   I’m actually not THAT into anime, and neither are Japanese people, which I discovered upon meeting my husband and other Japanese people.  At 12 years old my best friend at the time introduced me to Sailor Moon.  To be honest, it’s not that great of a story, but it appealed to my inner needs of fantasy and escapism.  I wanted to be Sailor Moon because let’s face it, being the princess of the moon and solar system is a lot cooler than being an awkward, self-hating, unpopular, and painfully shy teenager.  And she had kick-ass magic powers too.  Who wouldn’t envy her?

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My family moved to California when I was 13, so at that point I knew no one else that loved anime and/or video games with the exception of my little sister.  So in this sense it made me feel very different.  The internet was still in it’s infancy when I was in high school so I was not able to connect with other otakus and female gamers at the time.  Despite all of this, I still harbored a deep passion and respect for Japan.  After meeting my Japanese husband in college, there was a surge of interest followed by a period of apathy as my studies required intense focus.  Through my introduction to fanfiction several years ago, I have met many other females with a deep appreciation for Japan, and I suppose that increased my interest again.  My interest waxes and wanes with the different phases of my life, but there will always be a special place in my heart for Japan.

Then there is the fact that I am very attracted to Asian men, and the prettier the better 😄  Sexuality is very complicated, and I’m not even sure why I love Asian men, but I just do.  I guess the fact that I’m 6’0″ tall makes it ironic because the average Japanese man is 5’7″.  My husband is 5’11” so he is pretty tall for a Japanese guy.  But I wouldn’t mind being taller than a boyfriend by a few inches.  It just doesn’t bother me.  I’m not someone who was exclusively interested in Asian men.  I dated lots of different guys before getting married in my early 20s.  But the fact remains that my ideal of male beauty is someone that looks like Hyde from the Japanese bands L’arc en Ciel and Vamps.  And legally I can’t post a photo, but I’ll post a Youtube video for you.

And most Japanese men don’t look like Hyde actually. If you go to Japan expecting everyone to look like Hyde you will be very disappointed.  That would be like coming to America and expecting everyone to look like Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox, Cameron Diaz, etc.  I always have to laugh when I see males writing articles about how to pick-up-women, and stating that women like alpha males and masculine men who will take control, etc.   Nope, not me.  I wish my husband was more feminine 😄  With all that being said, there is a greater acceptance of men being beautiful and very feminine looking in Asian cultures.  Currently, in America that sort of thing will often have people doubting your masculinity and sexuality.  And there is nothing wrong with being a homosexual, but I think it is wrong to make assumptions on someone’s sexuality based on the way they dress.  The way one dresses or appears visually does not necessarily define their sexual preferences.  Just my opinion though, so feel free to disagree with me.

Here’s a popular Kpop (Korean pop) band, Big Bang, featuring more beautiful Asian men 🙂