Not Living Up to Expectations

This is a prologue to the fifth installment, the continuation of subjective memories of not living up to expectations.

After my return from Japan, I had much to think about. How do I address this new realization that I am NOT JAPANESE. Through the crystal clear prism of hindsight, it was foolish of me to even think I was Japanese: I wasn’t born there, I had never lived there, I didn’t know the language as well as I thought I did, and my understanding of Japanese culture was anachronistic, a vestige of the Meiji/Taisho (late 19th/early 20th cen.) period. But in the winter and early spring of 1975, I did not have the benefit of this hindsight, so I did what any confused 19 year-old would do: A little of this, a little of that, and a lot of bumming around…

As I sit here and try to recall the years between 1975 and 1979, I realize that they are not very clear in my mind. Many memories and the order in which they occurred before this five year period are stored in my mind in a clear and coherent fashion. My first major scolding: When I was 4, I managed to open a can of paint and proceeded to redo my red fire engine and my sisters bicycle; I was sent to my room where I think I threw everything I could get my hands on at the door in frustration… My first taste of scotch: 5 years old in our old house in East LA, given to me by my Uncle Frank, “Try it. It’s adult apple juice”… The first time I realized that I might truly be different: The father of a friend down the block, Ricky Santa Maria (real name), used to call me tomodach, and I thought he was cursing me… Other times when I knew I was truly different: Getting beat up by local toughs when my friends and I at 12 rode our bikes past Belvedere Park on our way to the Library because were japs and gooks and chinks (they couldn’t make up their minds)… The first time I held hands: At Knott’s Berry Farms on a field trip in 8th grade with a girl who today would probably even deny she knows me… My first cigarette: In the back yard, behind the garage at 14, with my mom’s lighter and Kent’s… My first real part-time job: At the sweetshop at 17, going downstairs with a girl two years my senior, who took me downstairs to get me an apron and had me carry up a case of boxes–it was my first serious crush… I remember all these events and the sequencing with a high degree of clarity…

Yet, the five-year period from the age 19 to 24 are blurred, jumbled together. I recall isolated incidents, miscellaneous dates, different jobs intertwined with each other. Perhaps all these are just proof of how really confused–if not just simply screwed up–I was. As I continue to log portions of my life on this public forum, it occurs to me that I am not here to provide fiction. Many write about current relationships (I argued with my boyfriend, I hate my boss, I love my dog) or about current incidents (I went to school, I saw a movie) or about dreams and goals (I wanna go to Japan, I want to meet the perfect guy or girl). All are personal and interesting, sating our voyeuristic tendencies. Me? I am writing something that is just as personal–perhaps even more so, since it is something that has been a part of my life for that last 40+ years: my memories. It is something that I cherish and relive in my mind–good and bad–from time to time when I can’t go to sleep, or when I’m sitting in the train exhausted, or when I’m feeling frustrated at work, or when I’m just feeling sad with a glass of scotch in my hand… So it really bothers me that I can’t articulate this five year period coherently. I don’t want to make anything up, so I’ve even gone back to look at old records and photos to see if they might jog my memory, but no luck. So I will instead provide a basic timeline and relate isolated incidents that I remember that might prove to be salient to this selected record of my life…

More to come…

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