A few weeks ago I got in touch with an old friend from university. She was a junior or senior during my freshman year and was eventually going to join the literature department as a lecturer. You can say she was my sempai, and was an onee-san figure in my university career both in my life as an undergrad taking a bachelors in literature, and eventually as a lecturer and scholar myself sometime later.
(Note: I am neither a lit professor nor a scholar. I gave that up over a decade ago¹; so did she – we are both salarypeople for different transnational corporations) I had not seen her since my wedding almost five years ago, and we really hadn’t really connected for almost a decade. Well, we saw each other a few days prior during my best friend’s wedding and committed to catch up.
During the reception, we were talking about our work (she was in training/capability development; I was in human resources) and I said something about not really all about winning the rat race. Her reaction was cute: “Wow I’m glad to see there’s still something left of the lit major in you.”
Well, true – but not for the reason she thinks. I don’t want to rise in corporate because I want to win in business. My being in corporate is a result in not winning in business – yet. Along with Mechafetish (the co-founder of We Remember Love) we have a number of projects and ventures. These are the things I really care about, and not rising to the top of a transnational corporation. But her remark was followed up with “Do you still write?”
MOMENT OF TRUTH MIKE
“Um, yes. I actually started putting out poems again a year ago… in some site I don’t really share.” [I was never a fiction writer, my published work is all of three poems in 2 different magazines back in the ‘90s, and two fluff essays for politicians in a different magazine in ‘04]
She gave me this nodding, kind of interested look but didn’t really elaborate. I didn’t, couldn’t deal with the pause, the silence, and that’s when I knew I was going to say it.
“But actually, I have been busy writing the past three years. I run this blog, called We Remember Love, where I write about anime and manga.”
“I don’t do criticism and theory really though, though some of my pieces show evidence of my academic background. What I really do is anime appreciation pieces rather than reviews. That’s the kind of criticism I’m really into anyway.” [As opposed to my undergraduate thesis which was a post-colonial reading of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion LOL]
I blabber a little more about how well I thought the blog was doing, citing stats and comment count, but this conversation was dead. We wouldn’t get to talk much further during the reception but we did agree to see each other after-shift the following week. That time we had more time to discuss and catch up. She told me she knew nothing about anime which is why she’d never ask about WRL, even though she could tell it was important to me. We caught up how little reading we’ve done the past half-decade, but it was good in that in each other we opened the shutters into our past when we were really into writing and books. I shared with her my poems (my tumblr LOL), and she asked for my help on what to cosplay because that was the theme of their corporate Xmas party.
“Voltes V, Sailor Moon; dress up in a schoolgirl sailor uniform and you’re golden.”
“Oh yeah, those are anime right?”
It wasn’t that hard, was it? She and I had a great night out, had good beer and smoked cigarettes (funny as hell, because I could never imagine her doing these things back in university because she was as straight-laced as they came). We had one of those conversations I used to have with people when you discover each other for the first time. Not just meet, discover. I enjoyed how far she’s come in the world (and how far she’s traveled around the world). She loved it at how, after marriage, fatherhood, and a decade of working for the man, I still had it in me – that guy who loved poetry. The night wasn’t about me liking anime LOL, but we remembered love.
Two months ago during my first day at work I was introduced in some kind of welcome party for n00bs and I was outed immediately. I thought one of the girls was just trying to get to know me, but she was actually one of the emcees. “Mike is a certified blogger and he writes about anime.” LOL, well the cat was clearly out of the bag.
Later on, I’d be adventurous after a meeting with one of the managers I support. He was into video games, and I told him I was into anime. He took a long pause, and then he said he liked Samurai X back in the day.
What am I trying to say here?
It may be strange, but it’s not that hard for me. I prefer to demonstrate my competence and ability first before sharing personal information, but here in this huge transnational I was outed on day one. Nobody ever brought it up ever again. Even though I was this n00b who was dependent on so many people in learning all these processes that I had to master. The job is tough as hell but it’s never because it was known I had this thing for anime. On the other hand, I get props for fronting in our boyband video singing a Bruno Mars song for our own Christmas party. This I find embarrassing as fuck.
By the way, I wore my university jacket in that video… and a Combattler V t-shirt. I owned in it too.
Maybe I’m just lucky… to be this free to remember love.
¹For those who don’t know me or aren’t regular readers, I am a 34-year old married father of one, a lovely daughter just under two years old. I am an entrepreneur by aspiration and a human resources practitioner by profession. My wife is an attorney. She and I discovered Japanese cartoons before we started school, which at the end of the ‘70s and the early ‘80s meant giant robots. Neither of us wouldn’t get to call them “anime” until decades later. Like myself when I was a toddler, the first episode of anime I let my daughter watch was an episode of [Shin] Mazinger Z.