☆ i heart japan,  ☆ life

Living Tall in Japan, omake!

☆ To see all of the parts in this series, click here

Oh no, the Living Tall in Japan series isn’t over yet! Not by a long shot!

It’s just that I mentioned that I’d actually had a roommate worse than Cersei in college, and I wanted to talk about that whole experience. It’s a long story, so brace yourself!

It’s been more than 10 years, but yanno, the story of Brenda is one that I’m never going to forget. It was the beginning of September, 2001, and I had just started college. I was living in Phoenix, Arizona, in an apartment with three guys– my boyfriend Ron (I was still struggling with my sexual identity, and it was very hard for me to come to terms with it), and his friends, Eric and Jon. Ron and I shared a room, and Eric and Jon were theoretically sharing a room, only Eric forgot and locked his door the first night, so Jon slept in the living room. Thereafter, he sort of lived in the living room, loving his loud music and not loving his headphones. Being the type who hates bass with a passion, this was a bit of a source of contention for us, but this story isn’t about that.

It was an expensive apartment, right across from the two schools that the four of us went to (me to The Art Institute of Phoenix, and the others to DeVry university. They’re right next door to each other). The apartment complex was also nice, gated, had a workout room, beach volleyball court, and two pools. It was perfect, but expensive. Even with our student discount, it was too expensive for us, and so we were looking for 2 roommates to fill up the master bedroom.

There was a girl in my Tuesday morning class who was in the Game arts and design program. It was her first semester, too, and she liked anime. We hit it off right away. We didn’t know each other very well, but she really didn’t like the roommate that our school had set her up with, and she decided to move in with us. Yay!

I should mention that the first time that I was going to bring her over to the apartment, we were supposed to go straight from class. Only… well, that day had a bit of a surprise in store for us. Halfway sure that what I was hearing on every station of the radio was some kind of elaborate War-of-the-Worlds style prank, I went to school.. only to see the video feeds of the September 11 attacks playing in our class. Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day, and while we did go to my place, we did nothing but stare in disbelief at the TV all day (waking up Jon, who had been still asleep on the couch. I don’t think that he minded just that once).

But, this story isn’t about that, as tragic as it was. Brenda did end up moving in with us, and we got along well. We hung out often. We found another roommate to share the room with her, in the form of an old internet friend of mine. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out, and she ended up moving out soon to get married (!). We still needed another roommate, so Brenda asked her boyfriend to move in to share the room with her. That guy.. was awesome. Sweet, funny, and friendly. Really easy to talk to. He is an awesome guy.

Brenda, however. We were good friends, until she found something that she wanted. Curtis.

Poor, poor Curtis. Curtis was a friend that we had made through the anime club that we had all joined. Curtis was single, and although Brenda was not, she still liked him. She told me that she liked him, and I listened to her problems. She said that she would never go out with him, because of course she had a boyfriend, but she wanted to.

Meanwhile, my absolute best friend in the world, Lauren, was single, and sort of interested in Curtis. Obviously, things were not going to happen with Brenda (right?), so I invited both Curtis and Lauren over to hang out together, and the next thing that I knew, they were going out. Awwwww.

It seemed okay, like everything would work out. But good things are not meant to last. Brenda resented me for hooking up Curtis and my best friend. For taking him away from her, and as days went by, things got increasingly more standoffish between us. She started a community on livejournal, with my best friend from high school, Rachel. Rachel was also going to DeVry, and was the one who had convinced me to come to school in Phoenix in the first place. I know that there are a lot of names here, just bear with me, if you can. Rachel had also set me up with Ron, who was “just perfect for you!!!” I’d had a crush on Rachel, and thus followed her across the country, but “lesbian” was not a word really in my vocabulary. I had never known a lesbian, and while I did fantasize about girls and had zero sexual interest in guys, the idea of getting together and making a life with a girl still didn’t seem like a thing that people did. So I stuck with my nice, courteous, and sort of girly guy. I loved him, too, but for me, being physical just wasn’t something that I was into.

The only picture that I have of Brenda anymore. Which coincidentally also has me and Curtis in it!

Anyways, back to Brenda and Rachel. I didn’t know this, but Rachel, who had her own boyfriend, really wanted mine, instead. I don’t know why. I don’t know why she never told me, either.  If she had said something, I would have let her have him (assuming he was interested). I tried and tried, but I never felt the kind of yearning desire that I wanted to feel. Nothing against him, because he’s a great guy, but we were very platonic, and I felt like I was gliding along through life. I had my good friends, and school, and the anime club, so I had plenty of things to keep me busy. If she’d only said something… but she was, in secret, starting to resent and hate me, too.

Rachel and I, back when things were good. At least, when I thought they were good. Surrounded by the Otaku University anime club, on our way to Anime Expo in 2001.

Rachel and Brenda fed off of each other, and created a community on livejournal (a blogging site that we all used). It was created purely to write about me, and how much they hated me. How messy the apartment was (we lived with four guys and NOBODY wanted to clean. Including Brenda. Of course it was dirty). How “horrible” I was to Ron (for what? Not having sex? How did they even know that?). The community is long gone, removed for violating the Livejournal terms of service, although not before it was attacked by some grammar nazis who insisted that Brenda needed to learn how to spell before she criticized anyone else. It was a momentary laugh, but deep down inside, I was feeling cornered from all sides.

I fully admit that our apartment was kinda gross. We’ve all went through that time in our lives, right? Maybe this is why I’m so clean nowadays…

Brenda started parking in my parking space after that, the only way to get to me without direct confrontation. We were already avoiding each other, and making the entire apartment nervous and uncomfortable. I ignored it for a while, but I was only a college student. I was sick of this game. One day, I decided that I’d had enough, and while she was gone, passively-aggressively put my car back into its spot (well, it belonged to our apartment, but she’d never cared about it until she was upset with me). Childish, I know. It was also provoking her, and I knew it. When she came back, I was at my computer in the living room, with my headphones on. I heard the front door slam behind me. Then, the tirade started behind me. Expletives, screaming at the top of her lungs, and I refused to turn around. If I ignored it, it would go away. She would go away. She’d move out. But, she grabbed my headphones then, and ripped them off of my head.

I turned around, told her to get out of the house, and marched away.

Guess what she did, then? She called the police.

Which, of course, backfired on her, as our names were on the lease, but hers was not. She had no legal ground to stand on, and the cop told her to leave immediately. When she came back to get her things, it would have to be under police supervision. As long as we wanted her gone, she would have to leave. And we did.

And that’s exactly what happened the next day, as she came over and a policeman watched while she took her things We never said a word to each other. We haven’t said a word to each other since. But that’s okay with me.

Oh, and do you want to know what happened after that? Well…. Brenda and her boyfriend broke up, and so did Lauren and Curtis. Brenda did get the guy that she wanted– Curtis– and ended up living with him until they split up, which happened sometime after I went to Japan. I have no idea where she is now or what happened to her.

And Rachel? After I finally got the courage to formally end things with Ron because they just weren’t going anywhere (though I still cared about him), I found myself at Rachel’s apartment one day, wanting to hear her explanation for the hate community that she’d made with Brenda. She wanted to take a shower, though, so she told me to amuse myself with her computer until she was out. Okay, I could do that.

On her desktop was an AIM chat log titled “Ron.” Right there on the desktop, in plain sight, on the computer that she’d told me to use. Did she want me to see it? I don’t know. Maybe. Rachel and I had been friends since 1995. Eight years. And so when I opened the file, I saw a log of her and Ron, dated months ago, discussing how she had given him a blow job, and they were wondering if they should tell me. It had happened while we were still “together.”

There wasn’t any need to tell me, then. I confronted her when she got out of the shower, and I count what she said to me as one of the most cruel things that I’ve ever had anyone say to me: “I didn’t care if I lost you as a friend, as long as I got to do that with him.”

Our friendship was over. I cried much, much harder than I’d cried for Ron, and Ron, for his  part, was devastated. He wanted to be forgiven, even if she didn’t, and I don’t know if I ever told him that I forgave him. To me, what my best friend of 8 years had done to me had shattered my soul.

I had great friends– Lauren, Amanda, and Tiffiny, who are still my best friends to this day. Valerie (hi! I know you read this blog!) whom I still love to death, and Sarah, and Megan and Chrissy and Jill, Kyon and Ami and Amy, Fruey, Dusty, I could go on forever.  But what Rachel said to me has haunted me ever since. I never told her boyfriend. I don’t know if he ever found out, though she graduated soon after that and moved away. I graduated a few months later, and moved off to Japan. I still talk to Ron, sometimes. I did love him, even if it wasn’t in the way that he wanted. You know how it’s the big thing to experiment in college? I suppose that he was my experiment, and a big part of the key to finding out who I really was. For that, and more, he is special to me in his own way.

Lauren, Val, Sarah, and me, at Val and I’s graduation. These are what real friends look like. ^^

Amanda, me, and Tiffiny cosplaying at Anime Expo. Also what real friends look like. ^^

Anyways, that is the story of Brenda and I. I told you that I’d had a roommate who was worse than Cersei. Don’t you agree with me? ^.~ None of the stuff with Brenda hurts any more, so I can laugh about it. I can even laugh about how I acted. With Rachel? I’m not sure that scar will ever heal, but it’s not something that I ever really think about.

So, that’s some of my rather colorful history, and somehow it all happened because I dared to introduce one single friend to a guy that my not-single roommate liked. Never a dull moment, right? For a bookworm who grew up spending her nights reading and gazing at the stars, until she discovered anime and fell ungracefully into that world, it sure has been an interesting and unexpected life so far!

Whoa, I feel very strange. But my blog is the place to pour out my heart, and put myself out there for everyone. Where I hope that you all accept me for who I am, but even if you don’t, that’s okay. I still love myself. <3


Sorry for the strange melancholy there… I’ll see you all tomorrow, hopefully with something a little more upbeat, ne? =^_^=

(409 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.


  • Alesand

    *shaking my head at the nonsense* I find it rather pathetic that two grown women would resort to such behavior. Even by teenager standards this is incredibly childish. At least Ron truly felt sorry for what he did. Also, you at least had great friends to help you.

  • zoomingjapan

    What a bitch!!! 🙁
    I’m so sorry to hear about this betrayal. I understand that this must have hurt a lot.

    And woah, that Brenda girl sounds weird, too. You even needed the police? Scary!

    I’m so happy that you take the time to tell us all about your past. There are so many things I didn’t know yet and I really enjoy reading about them. 🙂

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Yeah, it was really hard for me to get over what Rachel did. She never apologized, so I guess she was just pretending to be a friend all along. To what end, I don’t know. But there are people like that out in the world. Thankfully, I have good, true friends now, and I don’t need to worry about her at all!

  • Roller

    Aww! You and Lauren were my best friends in college! I’m glad that we are all still friends. Sarah and Ricadonna, too! 🙂

  • Victoria

    It’s so sad that people can stab their best friends in the back just for their own selfish desires :'( so all of this was going on while you were still in college? Whoa! O.O

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Yep! It was pretty uncomfortable for a while, but somehow I still managed to graduate on the honors list! 🙂 I actually loved college itself, but next time I go, I will happily do without the drama. 🙂

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