Not Living Up to Expectations

Xanga
As a Xanga addict, yesterday was a good practice run for September when school starts. I showed few symptoms of withdrawal. Hope all of you survived, as well.


Heartening
Again, thanks to those who have commented and showed me that young–and younger–people today aren’t as frivolous and self-centered as I was as a youth. Your comments suggest that you are also serious and thoughtful. Back to the story…


Not Living Up to Expectations
This is the fifth installment, the continuation of last week’s entry. If you have not read the previous installments, click here to view all available entries.


Back in LA, I did very little. I went back the sweet shop, but their new hire was competent and I worked only on the weekends. While all my high school buddies were going to universities, I led an aimless existence Monday through Friday. I wasn’t sure what to do, and I still struggled to understand where I fit in the greater scheme of things: am I Japanese, or Japanese-American, or American? Compounding to my confusion was the absence of a parent. When I returned to my home in East L.A., I learned that my mother had decided to leave the house. The marriage between my parents had been strained for a variety of reasons–which I am not inclined to present in detail on as public forum as this–but I will say that she was in many ways frustrated by the limitations life placed on her as a wife and mother… or more specifically, as a Japanese wife and Japanese mother.


As a result, I had very little to do during the days except read a book or watch TV. I never reconnected with my band buddies–we had all sorta went our separate ways–except for one: our female lead singer, BA. She had kept in touch with me while I was in Japan, and we saw each other from time to time after I cam back. By the summer of 1975, we had committed to a relationship. Of course, a relationship, as defined by a 19 year-old with no direction, was a pretty shallow thing. But a relationship it was, and BA was just the person for me. She could sing, she could play the piano, she was a cute Westsider, she was an honor student, and went to the other major university in LA (UCLA, of course, being the premier post-secondary school in the city). She had looks and brains. She was kind and generous and thoughtful, and she could cook… Far too good for the likes of me… but she was mine.







ca. 1976
Thanks to BA, I had a sense of where I wanted to go. The stability of her presence–her outlook, her attitude–gave me a sense of direction: Go to school, get a “regular” part-time job, and none of this J-Town, coolie-wages gig… Yes, BA was not into the JA scene. She became singer of our JA band almost by accident, through the introduction of a casual friend. She knew no Japanese, and little about its customs and history. I wouldn’t mark her as a “banana”–yellow on the outside, white on the inside (Marja tells me that it’s “Twinkie” now, but it would seem to me like the skin is too thick)–but she showed little interest in JA issues and things Japanese in general. But actually, we were a pretty good match. I introduced her to a few things Japanese which she liked, and she showed me how JAs coped in the “real” world, outside the insulated environment of J-Town. I went back to school–a local community college, because my grades in high school prevented me from matriculating into a four-year institute. I also got another job, working at a major bank–the one that consolidated with Nations Bank. I felt that I was beginning to understand what it was all about. Being JA was cool, but you had to temper it with a dose of reality. I got along with my fellow workers at the bank–I was the only Asian and that was a completely new experience for me. I could be a bit assertive, casting aside the yoke of the reserved Glob (good little oriental boy). There was a trade off, of course. There was no more running through theaters waving a Japanese flag. But that was okay. I felt like I could cope in this world now.


It sounds so obvious, its ridiculous, but for me and many of my friends it was not so. Going to an all Japanese American elementary school and church. Shopping and working in J-Town, where virtually every worker and certainly most visitors were of Japanese descent. Hanging out and going to dances where practically everyone I associated with was Japanese American. It was a comfortable world, a world where Chuckles the Clown would never invade. But it was also an isolated world, one where I would never grow up.


I owed a lot to BA. She was the best thing that could happen to me at a time when my family situation was rocky, and she and her family accepted me with open arms. But of course, young men at 19-20 years of age boast a psychological age of a 13-year-old, or at least this young man did. After about 14 months, we broke up because I was selfish, narrow-minded and just plain stupid… and I did what I was inclined to do… find another girl…

Not Living Up to Expectations

Xanga
As a Xanga addict, yesterday was a good practice run for September when school starts. I showed few symptoms of withdrawal. Hope all of you survived, as well.

Heartening
Again, thanks to those who have commented and showed me that young–and younger–people today aren’t as frivolous and self-centered as I was as a youth. Your comments suggest that you are also serious and thoughtful. Back to the story…

Not Living Up to Expectations
This is the fifth installment, the continuation of last week’s entry. If you have not read the previous installments, click here to view all available entries.

Back in LA, I did very little. I went back the sweet shop, but their new hire was competent and I worked only on the weekends. While all my high school buddies were going to universities, I led an aimless existence Monday through Friday. I wasn’t sure what to do, and I still struggled to understand where I fit in the greater scheme of things: am I Japanese, or Japanese-American, or American? Compounding to my confusion was the absence of a parent. When I returned to my home in East L.A., I learned that my mother had decided to leave the house. The marriage between my parents had been strained for a variety of reasons–which I am not inclined to present in detail on as public forum as this–but I will say that she was in many ways frustrated by the limitations life placed on her as a wife and mother… or more specifically, as a Japanese wife and Japanese mother.

As a result, I had very little to do during the days except read a book or watch TV. I never reconnected with my band buddies–we had all sorta went our separate ways–except for one: our female lead singer, BA. She had kept in touch with me while I was in Japan, and we saw each other from time to time after I cam back. By the summer of 1975, we had committed to a relationship. Of course, a relationship, as defined by a 19 year-old with no direction, was a pretty shallow thing. But a relationship it was, and BA was just the person for me. She could sing, she could play the piano, she was a cute Westsider, she was an honor student, and went to the other major university in LA (UCLA, of course, being the premier post-secondary school in the city). She had looks and brains. She was kind and generous and thoughtful, and she could cook… Far too good for the likes of me… but she was mine.


ca. 1976

Thanks to BA, I had a sense of where I wanted to go. The stability of her presence–her outlook, her attitude–gave me a sense of direction: Go to school, get a “regular” part-time job, and none of this J-Town, coolie-wages gig… Yes, BA was not into the JA scene. She became singer of our JA band almost by accident, through the introduction of a casual friend. She knew no Japanese, and little about its customs and history. I wouldn’t mark her as a “banana”–yellow on the outside, white on the inside (Marja tells me that it’s “Twinkie” now, but it would seem to me like the skin is too thick)–but she showed little interest in JA issues and things Japanese in general. But actually, we were a pretty good match. I introduced her to a few things Japanese which she liked, and she showed me how JAs coped in the “real” world, outside the insulated environment of J-Town. I went back to school–a local community college, because my grades in high school prevented me from matriculating into a four-year institute. I also got another job, working at a major bank–the one that consolidated with Nations Bank. I felt that I was beginning to understand what it was all about. Being JA was cool, but you had to temper it with a dose of reality. I got along with my fellow workers at the bank–I was the only Asian and that was a completely new experience for me. I could be a bit assertive, casting aside the yoke of the reserved Glob (good little oriental boy). There was a trade off, of course. There was no more running through theaters waving a Japanese flag. But that was okay. I felt like I could cope in this world now.

It sounds so obvious, its ridiculous, but for me and many of my friends it was not so. Going to an all Japanese American elementary school and church. Shopping and working in J-Town, where virtually every worker and certainly most visitors were of Japanese descent. Hanging out and going to dances where practically everyone I associated with was Japanese American. It was a comfortable world, a world where Chuckles the Clown would never invade. But it was also an isolated world, one where I would never grow up.

I owed a lot to BA. She was the best thing that could happen to me at a time when my family situation was rocky, and she and her family accepted me with open arms. But of course, young men at 19-20 years of age boast a psychological age of a 13-year-old, or at least this young man did. After about 14 months, we broke up because I was selfish, narrow-minded and just plain stupid… and I did what I was inclined to do… find another girl…