“Can I help you find anything?”

You look up. “Just say ‘No,’” runs through your head. “She doesn’t need to know what you’re looking for. Nobody has to know.”

“Yeah, I’m looking for Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan.”

Her lips purse as the corners of her mouth roll up. “Yeah, that’s right,” You think. “I’m an ASIAN dude looking for that book that ASIAN people like about ASIAN people written by that ASIAN dude. Oriental.”

She shows you to the appropriate shelf. “So here’s that one,” she says, handing the tastefully peach-coloured volume to you, “and here are the sequels, which are also” pregnant pause “very popular.” She waves her hands toward China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. Her speech sounds uncomfortably deliberate. Is she refraining from saying the titles because she’s worried about offending you? Is there a nerve cluster in her brain pulling her toward the phrase “Crazy Rich People of East Asian Descent”?

“Thank you,” you manage. You suppose that’s considerate of her, if that’s the case. It’s nice when they try. Often Awkward, rarely effective, but nice.

I’ve been meaning to read CRA for a while. Partly because I feel obligated to bat for the home team once in a while between all the watching baseball and listening to country music and being bad at math and literally being a member of the military, and partly because the upcoming film adaptation stars Constance Wu, who is the love of my life in perhaps an even more real way than every single woman I match with on Tinder. “Who is that handsome rogue in the coffee-stained t-shirt reading the book that that movie I’m in is based on?” She might wonder, biting her lip as she strolls by while visiting Winnipeg, for some reason.

Well, I’ve finished the book now, and if Constance has been in town in the past week, she somehow managed to miss the coffee shop where I do all my reading (River City’s leading tourist destination). So that plan’s a bust. I admit in hindsight there’s a possibility it was a long shot.

By most metrics, CRA was an irredeemably superficial clump of chick lit fluff. Epitomizing the novel’s flaws, the male lead, Nick, gets through 500+ pages demonstrating exactly three personality traits: sensitivity, fantastic wealth, and abs. Contrast this with the Deeply Complex And Universally Appealing** character, Batman, whose personality traits include: violence, fantastic wealth, and abs. The dialogue was about as graceful as you might expect to find in a mediocre fanfic; the plot was a pretty naked 20-something straight urban professional woman wish fulfillment narrative, and the characters were as a rule shallow and one-dimensional.

I couldn’t put it down, needless to say.

**My legal team tells me I need to put a finer point on this one: Male-targeted popular media works are exactly as vapid and mindless as female-targeted works (probably more so), but liking things that men conventionally like is lauded as a norm for all people (read: spectator sports, beer, Fortnite, war), while liking things that women conventionally like is criticized as deviance, even for women, somehow (read: pumpkin spice lattes, cosmetics, being attracted to men). This is getting awfully close to a political statement, so I feel like my lawyers steered me the wrong way on this one. The point is you need to stop laughing at me for liking Taylor Swift.

“What’s a cooler word than ‘knives.’”

You try to ignore the knives digging into your ribs. How much longer to go? Two clicks? Five? Ten?

“Everybody always says ‘knives.’ Maybe ‘icicles’ or something. No that definitely sounds worse than ‘knives.’ Man my blog post is going to sound exactly like everybody else’s blog post about running ever. This sucks.”

You recall that fateful morning 27 days ago, before you’d ever in your life run even 10 consecutive kilometers. “I think you should run the half marathon,” the Master Corporal had chimed cheerily when you asked whether you should run the 5k or the 10k for the annual RCAF run. “You seem athletic!”

“Priority #1 on the off chance this doesn’t kill you, learn to say ‘No’ to things generally and especially to suggestions that sound incredibly difficult and will probably kill you.”

Your first training run was just 5k, and by the end of it you felt like you were dying. Since then you’ve run so much that 10k has become a casual work-out for you. You’d even run a 21k the previous weekend to prepare. You should be really proud of yourself by the end of this. Assuming it doesn’t kill you. Which, again, is by no means a safe assumption.

“Less than three kilometers to go!” Shouts a well-meaning volunteer for whom you feel more hatred than you’ve ever felt for anybody or anything. You’re struggling to keep your eyes open.

“How can running tire you out so much that you start to fall asleep,” your brain whines petulantly. “That’s definitely not how tiredness works. This sucks”

I’ve been out of basic for three and a half months now, which, if you don’t count the December break, is exactly how long I spent in basic. Already those memories are a dimly remembered bad dream. Life as a 2Lt has been a ride: I bought a standard transmission car (fun fact if you can drive standard it’s actually illegal for you to call it “manual” in most states and all of Canada) and then figured out how to drive it; I learned how to survive an emergency situation at sea (pretty competently) and on land (ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh); I have a Costco membership; I trained for and ran a half marathon.

I’m making a lot of friends and meeting a lot of people. Somewhere along the line I picked up a passable impression of charismatic and likable and let me tell ya these rubes are really falling for it, albeit in the case of one specific category of rube not as much as I’d like. More than one person has stated that they look up to me, which is, God, baffling and terrifying please stop doing that.

My life has settled into an enjoyable, just-comfortable-enough routine. On weekdays, I go to work, then I read for a few hours, then I play World of Warcraft with my friends. My weekend itineraries are filled haphazardly at the last minute with good company and food and drink and that one time a tractor pull.

If this sounds like bragging, that’s mostly because it is, but nobody forced you to click on my blog.

Looking back on where I was a year ago, frustrated and lost, I can hardly fathom how far I feel like I’ve come, and how much farther it looks like I’m going to go. The other shoe’s going to drop at some point, but, for now, I’m content. Dare I say, I’m fulfilled.

Just remembered that the Jays are 14 games back so I changed my mind life is a joke and existence is pain.

Written by

I like history and baseball

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