I’m going to be honest. I really didn’t know what to write these last couple weeks. Some of that is because I keep putting the finishing touches on another book that I’m preparing to submit to publishers. And I love writing these posts, but sometimes I become lazier than the guy sitting on his couch that just bought a Bowflex at 2 A.M. I like getting random emails from people telling me how much they appreciate the way I document my life. To be truthful, these people don’t come out in droves. I might get one email a month now, especially since the momentum from The Long Road North has been on the decline for the last couple months. I suppose that’s only natural. Some people love my book. Some people hate it. One guy on Amazon called me a narcissist, which stung when I first read it, but then made me laugh. I don’t think I’d be a good writer if I didn’t ruffle a few feathers. At the end of the day, I write about my life, and the things that happen to me. I only deal with the truth, which once embraced, changes your life.
Most people think they embrace who they are, but they don’t. I’m not writing this saying that I’ve totally accomplished that myself. I too have insecurities I don’t completely understand and consequently can’t fully articulate. But most people live in this false reality, where they tell themselves they’re not that overweight, or their job isn’t that bad, even though they dread every minute of it. I really don’t know why we do this, why we try to fool ourselves into thinking we are better than we truly are. It’s probably what makes life a little easier to live, because the reality is most of us, myself included, are not where we ultimately want to be.
I thought about this over the last few weeks, after having numerous conversations with a close friend of mine. This guy is big into philosophy, which honestly wears me the fuck out. I can only talk about philosophy for so many minutes before I take a nihilistic approach and want to go jump off a bridge, because what’s the point of living if everything I believe isn’t the truth and is just my version of the truth? This is the kind of stuff we get into. Again, after a few minutes.
But I’m not giving this guy enough credit. He stretches my thoughts and makes me question what it is I’m doing. And what I’m doing now is writing, because I want to be a writer. I don’t want to work forty hours a week for the rest of my life. I’d rather experience things and then tell the story. So far, it’s been a blast. I tell people, “I’m living my dream out. I’m just not making enough money doing it.” I was told back in grad school that you can’t end a paragraph with a quote, so I’m throwing this anecdote in to appease the few scholars that read this and actually care about academic standards.
Which brings me back to my friend, as brutally honest as me. We talk a lot about our passions. My passion, right now, is going out with as many Chinese women as possible. I don’t know if this is wise, and it is definitely subject to change, but it’s where I’m at in my life right now, for better or worse.
“Do you have a passion for writing?” he’ll ask, and then I’ll squint my eyes because I don’t know what he means. But a few minutes later, I start to begin to understand what he means. And I become frustrated because I’m not sure I have a passion for writing. I have at least an ounce of talent, but is that grounds for trying to make it in such a cutthroat industry? Might I be better served pursuing something else? In reality, I’m just a guy from the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was decent at basketball in high school, but not good enough to be anything special. In college I started to behave recklessly with women, which oscillated between being awesome and damaging. I wrote a book, but obviously I’m not on any bestseller lists, so am I really any good? People always use that phrase: jack-of-all-trades, master of none. That kind of stuff keeps me up at night.
Life goes too fast. It feels like yesterday I jumped on a plane and uprooted my life, signing a contract that will keep me in Beijing for at least one year while I try to sort out this jumbled mess that I call my life. By jumbled mess, I mean rollercoaster, the kind you usually see in an Eli Roth film.
I wrote a few weeks ago about some of the things I have learned in China. Those all still remain true, as much as I wish I didn’t have to throw my dirty toilet paper into a receptacle that also houses remnants of my roommate’s monthly cycles.
My buddy and I got to this point, three weeks in to our tenure, where we decided that the pollution we keep hearing about and seeing shades of in the sky every morning was a myth and purely government propaganda. And then this past weekend happened, and I realized that if the pollution was a myth, I wouldn’t have been writhing in agony for most of my Saturday and Sunday. I hacked out half a lung, along with a couple pesky headaches and the chills that shook my body to the core. I can definitely be stubborn sometimes.
You ever ride that wave of momentum after you buy something new, feeling like you just scored a great deal on a product and no one else is feeling as good about life as you are in that moment? That was me a few weeks back, shopping for bedspread and walking out of a mall feeling like royalty. If you’ve experienced this, then you’ve also likely experienced the earth shattering feeling that later comes when you find out you didn’t score a good deal. In fact, you actually got screwed and were too caught up in the euphoria of the moment to realize you are now the butt of someone’s joke. I can just picture the exchange between shop owner and friend as I wallow in my own misery. “Yeah, man, this dumb, super tall American came in today. He smiled when I gave him a pillow for 100 RMB. If only he knew that I bought it for 5 and would have given it to him for 15.” This is the kind of stuff that also keeps me up at night because I don’t mind being vulnerable, but not that vulnerable.
In terms of women, not much has changed. A few days after arriving, I met up with this woman from California that was as adventurous as I am. We had dinner and she literally made my body shake when she started telling me everything I wanted to hear. I couldn’t speak for most of the meal. I was just mesmerized by the fact that we both seemed to know what this night was. I’ve met her type before, but then she started telling me that come tomorrow I’m never going to see her again, so she’s not ghosting me and is instead telling me how it is going to be. That was a good night.
I’ve had some not so great nights. There was a woman that told me in her thick Chinese accent “no kissing,” because to her kissing was much more intimate than sex. Thirty year old women here are like thirty year old women back home, in that they’re crazy. To be fair, everyone is crazy and this fact is not exclusive to one gender, but thirty year old women are still crazy. I think it’s because they’re in this stage where their biological clock is loudly ticking, and this facilitates behavior that they might not have engaged in during their twenties. And then they meet me, and they see me as a good time, but then realize I’m too young and have no desire to get involved in all the workings that are going on inside their head. Other women here see me as exotic, as if because I’m tall and white I must be something special. I’m sure it’s a shock to their system when they find out I’m just a normal guy with an extremely below average bank account.
Like most people, I was raised in a good home. I was taught there is a right way and a wrong way to treat people. When it came to dating, I was taught to treat women like they are angels. So as I’ve gotten older, I have had an extremely difficult time coming to the reality that everything my parents told me about women is, in many ways, not true.
If you’re like me, you were probably told that women don’t like it when you try to date multiple women. You definitely can’t be involved with more than one woman at a time, and that any woman that is willing to participate in such behavior was probably raised by wolves in the vast emptiness of Siberia. And then I started to realize that it’s probably extremely difficult to raise kids, especially a hormonal teenage boy. Maybe my parents, and all parents for that matter, are just trying to create this idealized world where they try to delay the realities of the world. They manipulate us, only hoping that we don’t commit the same acts they did. I’m sure one day I will meet some great woman, she’ll make me feel bad for all my wild behavior, and then when we have kids I’ll begin the process of convincing my child that the world is the same way my parents tried telling me it was. The circle of life.
But for now, I’m going to continue communicating and using my words. It’s gotten me so much further with the opposite gender than any mind game or deceptive tactic ever did. And to think I spent so much of my youth following those stupid Hollywood narratives where the male characters are always doing dumb things to try to court women. This entire time, I could have just been doing me.
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