People (Unreal life)


Soup: 1: a liquid food especially with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base and often containing pieces of solid food.

Dear Friends,

This post has a lot of liquid and a few things of substance. Life soup with the week’s events cut and diced.

1) Yesterday, my student M told me that at his alma mater, Kyoto University, students who major in Science fields have the option of staying in school anywhere from five to eight years. When I asked him why and how it’s possible to be an approved, perpetual student, he told me that the university is well-aware that “catching purpose” takes time. It’s clear to me, since I took that extended path of learning, for my undergraduate degree, that Kyoto University was where I should have gone. It’s also clear that for years I’ve been trying to “catch purpose,” and it’s proven as hard to grasp now as when I started reaching for it. In the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Chopra defines dharma (or “purpose in life”):

  •  Each of us is here to discover our higher self or our spiritual self. This is the first fulfillment of the Law of Dharma.
  •  The second component of the Law of Dharma is to express our unique talents.
  • The third component of the Law of Dharma is service to humanity– to serve your fellow human beings and to ask yourself the questions, “How can I help?”

2) Speaking of dharma, last night, on Skype, I caught up with Tan, a friend I’ve known forever and a day. It seems that she’s caught her purpose in life and it’s gold. As long as I’ve known her, she’s said that she’s wanted to help children. Years ago, she’d spoken of opening an orphanage, so it was no real surprise to me when she told me that she, her husband, and one or two others had founded a school in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The school, The Academy of Science, Technology, and the Arts (ASTA), which opens in September, plans to empower seventh and eight graders to think critically, in a non-traditional way. Their website states:

The academy is built around the principles of critical thinking and logical reasoning. The academy offers the traditional Caribbean secondary curriculum to students, utilizing traditional and non-traditional teaching techniques aided by technologically advanced tools and good practices.   Encouraging the use of critical thinking and logical reasoning, emphasis will be placed on the disciplines of Science, Technology and Arts and their practical use. Through interactive sessions, practical applications and utilizing a holistic approach ASTA aims to achieve academic excellence and produce well-rounded students who are mentally and emotionally prepared for international tertiary education and equipped with the necessary life skills for the real world.

I forgot to ask her if they’ll accept older students, because it’s increasingly clear that I have not been “equipped with the necessary life skills for the real world.” (Go T!)

3) Last week, a fabulous woman who I had the pleasure of interacting with at my old job in the States visited Tokyo. We happened across a free concert at a temple that was promoting energy conservation and general harmony. The surrounding areas of the temple were lit only by candlelight, and even the lights of Tokyo Tower were turned off for a few hours (happens only once a year).

She, as I have, fell in love with Tokyo and she asked me what my future intentions were in and for this great city. After a brief summary of my days, and what’s been going on, she advised me that to make life complete, it was necessary to get out there and date. Honestly, I hadn’t been pressed for a minute about dating, though in truth, a few months ago it was on my mind. (I’ve deleted the February post where I spoke of my crush– I wish life were as easily revised as this blog).

Emotional landscapes, they puzzle me. – Bjork

Dating’s never been an area in which I excelled, like say spelling, so I cringed when she suggested online dating.

* I went on one good date with this guy; and one evening, I’m sure I became his least favorite person in the world. 

I shared with her as I did with you all my woeful attempts at online dating with Match. com, and how I vowed never ever to online date again (See December posts). However, she said something I’ll never forget, “Don’t be afraid to fail.” I do recognize that failure is inevitable and that it doesn’t mean that I should stop trying. Though her words resonated with me, I didn’t sign up for the dating site until 2am two nights ago, and regretted it the very next morning when I received this message:

Hi M here , how are you i want to know you and see you soon, i am in tokyo working here . i live near tokyo tower in azabu east. i am alone want to meet you and make good friendship with you , waiting for your quick response if you have any skype or messenger please do share with me , or share your contact number so we can meet in a day or two. Plz reply. Can we have date soon . i love black beauty. i am also great at love you will like and love our meeting for long time.

I’ve also received normal messages, but it looks like I’m gonna soon have to hit up some of the cute guys that are checking out my profile and not sending messages. Honestly, I’m not cut out for online dating, when I went to check a message, and my profile showed that I was “Online,” some guy started messaging me and I promptly signed out. Hopefully, it’ll be worth it. (Giving it more than a week.)

4) Speaking of love, I went to Thong, a Thai Restaurant in Coredo Nihonbashi, last night with B and the waiter served us dessert in a heart-shaped bowl. (It’s also definitely time to have meals with guys who’re not romantically entangled, completely head over heels with other women or aren’t just friends.) My male friends here are beyond cool, but it’d be nice if the next time I see something heart-shaped, it induced something more than laughter.

* Sticky rice, mango, and coconut milk.

For our entrée, we shared Tom Yum Talay (spicy) soup.


People (Unreal life)

Match Tales Part 3 (Final)

Previously posted on Vox.


It was with great hesitancy that I walked down Sixth Avenue to meet up with Guy #2. I fought the feeling of sending an email to cancel, because that’s something the old Valerie would do. “What’s the harm?” I asked myself. My first blind date was with a man in love with his cat, but that didn’t mean that my second blind date would also be a failure. If  nothing else, I’d have a beer, maybe a new friend, and surely a funny story to tell my friends about the oldest guy who contacted me on Match. Well, I would’ve had a story, if the guy had shown up. He stood me up. I swear.

Now, somebody explain this to me. Why did he contact me, go through the rigamarole, make plans to meet, and then not show? I, once again, as a traitor of my race, showed up on time. Truth be told I was early. Gasp. I scanned Markt, he wasn’t there. Markt wasn’t full: a couple of gay men, an old lady loudly sipping soup, and two girls going to a charity event and speaking very loudly about it.

Five minutes go by. Ten minutes. A guy in a striped shirt walks up to me. I thought, “Hey, he’s not bad. Not bad at all.”

“Hi, I’m Bill.”

The minute Bill opened his mouth, it was obvious that he was as fruity as my mother’s Christmas cake. Clearly, not my date.  So of course in typical “this is my life,” gay Bill and I made a connection. He bought me a Duvel and I told him my whole drama. (Okay, there’s no drama, it’s only been a week, but still…). Bill voiced disbelief that my blind date didn’t even call the bar to say that he couldn’t make it. Bill, like me, agrees that the only excuse that can be accepted is that the meetup guy’s trapped under the tire of an M9 bus. If he contacts me, he better be missing a leg and his pinky finger too.

Bill was sweet as hell. Problem is: I’m not a gay man! (I feel I need I need to shout that to the universe). If I were a gay man, I’d still be in Chelsea with Bill, and the other gay men who gravitated toward us. If I were a gay man, right now I’d be having fun in a bathroom stall, maybe not; the point is, the night was unfulfilling. Actually, that’s not true; I had more fun tonight with Bill and my Duvel than I did yesterday with Catman and my runny eggs. I’ll soldier on.

Monday night (11:08p.m.)

Um, just a note (albeit an embarrassing one), I checked my Match mail to see if the oldest, hopefully amputated guy had left a note explaining why he had failed to show for our meetup. In my inbox was this message:

Looking forward to meeting you. I only know one or two bars in Union Square– but I see you know the area better than I do (at least in terms of bars :). I’m glad that you got to pick a place you like. See you Tuesday at 6:30p.m.


Tuesday?! I garnered sympathy, pats on the back, and even a free beer, because I had the wrong day. Unfreakinbelievable. Well, at least now I kow the story to run when I’d like a comped Belgian beer.

The End

In the Bible, the number seven symbolizes perfection. Perfect, because I feel pretty biblical most days. I’ve been tested like Job, been wayward like the prodigal son, have lots of coats like Joseph, and died and was resurrected like Jesus (well, not exactly, but had a lot of fun one night, and was also under anesthesia three times).

As the forgotten daughter of Lamentations, it’s fitting to end my Match escapade seven days from the day I started with a big lament. I must deactivate my Match account pronto. Enough is enough. You might think that I have hardly given Match a fair chance, but I have. I have! Did you have to listen to a tedious conversation about cat pus? Did you take one hundred minutes to look “natural” on a date that lasted ninety minutes? Did you have to listen to a conversation about social imperialsim versus communism? And, did you have to listen to someone speak so fast that the speaker swallowed half his words while drinking chamomile tea? Yes friends, chamomile freaking tea. Who under ninety drinks chamomile tea in public?

On Tuesday at 6:30p.m., I met my date Talkalot Ted at the corner of 17th and 6th. I waited as Talkalot Ted chained his bicycle to a pole, then proceeded to wipe grease all over his cargo pants. He greeted me with, “Hi Sweetie, I’m unemployed,” hence his moniker. (Okay papi, did I even ask you to pay my rent? Why would you tell me you have no job in the first thirty seconds? And, why are you calling me Sweetie?).

It struck me that Talkalot Ted was closer to my father’s age than mine. He was damn near close to my grandfather’s age. I’ve never met my grandfathers, maybe he was one of my grandfathers? Talkalot Ted must’ve been in college when JFK was shot, (maybe even Lincoln?). Dude was old. The clues: the age spots all over his hands, the personal references to things that took place in WWI,  his speeches that began with, “People your age.”

I saw his age on his profile, but I didn’t think he would look so ancient. I also think he lied and made himself forty years younger. Maybe, he just didn’t age well or maybe he’s a big, fat liar like Tom Arnold… “Did you eat that last slice of pound cake Tom?” “Um, no honey (big swallow), I didn’t.”

Early this afternoon, I told VP that I’d left a message on Talkalot Ted’s voicemail, and I was a bit worried because his voice was shaky. His message sounded like this, “H.i.i.i.i.i.i.i y..o.u.v.e reeeeeaaached Ted, leeeeeave a …” I wondered why his voicemail had suddenly cut off, but now I know his message is incomplete because he fell asleep before he could finish recording. Talkalot Ted, the poet/filmmaker/communist, who woke up fifteen minutes before our meetup, and loves black women because of all the years he lived in Kenya, was the straw that broke my back. I can’t do it anymore.

Our last words:

Talkalot Ted: How much do you weigh?

Me: Now, there’s a question. Somewhere in the hundreds.

Talkalot Ted: You should put the exact number and your height on your profile.

Me: Why?

Talkalot Ted: You’d meet more men that way.

Me: Really now.

Talkalot Ted: Well, if you’re looking for a guy who’s into that sort of thing.

Me: What sort of thing?

(Talkalot Ted takes a printed copy of my profile photo out of his bookbag… yes, a ninety year old with a bookbag)

Talkalot Ted: Look at your thighs in this pic, they look big. They don’t look big in person.

Me: Yea, thanks Ted.

Wow. I’m done. These Matchers sure know how to charm a woman don’t they? My experience has been chamomile tea, “I’m unemployed,” cat’s sebaceous cysts, “you don’t have big  thighs,” and “my cat’s my soulmate.” Friends, this is a community I’d pay $39 to flee from.

life, People (Unreal life)

Match Tales Part 2

Previously posted on Vox.


My Mother’s Advice

I just checked my online dating profile to see what the heck I’d written, because the responses I’m getting are outrageous. Every single response involves exercise, hiking, biking, and “fun.” My simple two-line profile states:

Hopefully, this experience will lead to fun, new experiences, travel, hiking, biking and all other sorts of spontaneous activities, with someone who’s determined to enjoy life. It’s good to explore people places, etc.

Okay, I see the two places where I went wrong: “It’s good to explore people,” and “etc.” I should’ve known the word etcetera would’ve been a mistake. My etcetera means watching ducks in Central Park and eating Baskin Robbins pistachio ice-cream; however, quite a few guys have interpreted my etcetera to mean “Let’s oil up and play home gladiator.” No no no.

Equally as outrageous as the Match responses are the responses from my family and friends. I can’t do my mother’s response justice by paraphrasing, so I’m going to print her email in its entirety:

dearest miss val,

just read your latest posting and decided to post a comment, but it just would not accept it, so here goes. of course, this is in the nature of another annoying, unsolicited comment. number one, hire a private detective to thoroughly check out all applicants and their mothers.

don’t cook for anyone until after the first one hundred dates, just so you don’t seem desperate. i found this little nugget in an O magazine so it must be gospel.

reconsider people who you have known and like you; their attractiveness quotient may have increased while you were not paying attention, or they may have friends to introduce you to.

and last of all, pray.

good luck sweetheart.

My mother’s the best. A tad crazy, but the best. She thinks that I can afford a private detective. She thinks I’d cook for someone when I haven’t cooked for myself in over a year. She thinks a random guy I know may like me (why haven’t we yet dated?!). She thinks I’ll still be alive after a hundred dates. She thinks people grow more attractive with time. Maybe, just maybe, my mother’s right. She has been once or twice before. I don’t pray nearly as much as I should, maybe I’ll pray on this, and it’ll be answered.

The other responses from family and friends:


Father: What site did you join? A change is gonna

(He then told me that he saw an ad in the newspaper for Christian singles, but immediately thought that Christian singles wouldn’t work for me because of my lifestyle.

Me: What lifestyle?

Father: Yu can see yuhself inna church wid yuh drinkin and pahtyin? Dem wouldn’t tek yuh.

Me: If I had such a lifestyle, would I need Match?


TH: You flirt like a barmaid. Have fun, but don’t sleep with anyone until after the fifth date. Everybody on Match is sleeping with everyone else on Match.

Me: Does that mean that if I hook up with one person on Match, I’d be a semi-swinger?


DV (sent an email), and all it said was “ Really?!!”

I loved DV’s really with the question mark and two exclamations. Yes, really! It would be impossible to choose from such a pool of diverse guys in the real world, unless one went to a bar every night. Not only is it too expensive to drink it up every night, but it’d be boring as well. And, boring as hell. Sadly, my passion for drinking has been snuffed out in the last two years (I do miss the old V that could knock ‘em back).

In less than a week, I have two meet-ups with straight men. Really. As much as I adore gay men, this is a nice change of pace. It’ll be fun to get one more meet-up in before Friday, maybe the Jewish guy who has a thing for tall women (aka “The Short One?”).

“It’s been a long long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.” – Sam Cooke




Sunday: I was on time for the meet-up. I’m never on time. Punctuality is a disease that black people never catch, and shy away from like people in the Bible shied away from lepers. One never ever hears “Oh Leroy’s got the punctuality,” or “The party started on time, because Marcia came down with the punctuality.” Nope. Punctuality for black people is a pretty-sounding “p” word, with deadly consequences, because it means immediate banishment from the community. I’ve never met a black person who wasn’t disgusted by punctuality. The punctual person at any black event, aka the white person, is the one person who must endure many cut-eyes, see the host/ess in shorts and or rollers, and sit in a corner with warm lemonade while the ice freezes. Blacks can deal with hypertension and diabetes, but punctuality cannot be endured.

I belabor the point that I was on time, because my first meet-up was late. I waited at the bar, watching the door for every slim guy that walked in. I waited and waited, and I’ll say one thing: the guy who walked through the door and greeted me at Marcos and Pepes yesterday was not the guy I saw on The guy I met at Marcos and Pepes looked okay, but he left half his hair in the car. Or, maybe he left his hair in the picture that he posted on Match. Or maybe he left his hair to babysit his cat; the cat, named after a rock star that he spoke about for forty-five minutes. My issue isn’t with baldness; my issue is with posting visual lies. It’d be like me posting a photo of Nia Long as my profile photo.

I know I don’t go out very often, but when did a cat’s sebaceous cysts become brunch conversation? Have I been out of circulation so long that I didn’t know it was now fun to talk about cats with pus? I’ve longed to be Judy Jetson many times, but never more than I did yesterday, when my meet-up started talking about his “soulmate”– the cat. Where in God’s name was my transport capsule?

He let me know that he told his cat very early on in the relationship that “my home is your home.” Thus, he allows “the last mammal” he’ll ever own to shred his possessions. Yikes. The high point of the meet-up wasn’t my runny eggs and toast served in mushroom soup, or the fact that cat-man was only interested in himself, or the fact that I asked him how old his cat was in human years, and he bit my head off, but the fact that he was oblivious. Completely oblivious.

How does one put lipgloss back in the tube? I need the lipgloss I wasted for Thursday’s holiday party. The worst part was that I spent more time trying to fit into my new jeans than I did at the meet-up.

We ended our meet-up with cat-man kissing me on the cheek, and asking if we could see each other again upon my return to the U.S. Little does he know that a mysterious hurricane, unbeknownst to all Americans, the Weather Channel, and CNN, will sweep through Kingston. Even more mysteriously, only my passport will be destroyed in the hurricane. Oh yes, and all my fingers, so that I can never send emails again. Freaky.