Burning Time

bahI’m infamous for over sharing, one instance that comes to mind is when I shared my life story with a woman I had only met once. I met this victim after a lecture she gave on EcoFeminism, after speaking to her I asked if she would like to get coffee with me and we ended up talking over coffee for five hours. The thing that united us at first was just that her and I were the only unshaven woman in the room, and we loved rubbing our hands up and down our hairy legs (it feels great, but as this was over two years ago I have sadly since then shaved my legs after of a year of no shaving). I admitted that I had days where I’d sleep 14 hours. I felt like I was giving too much information about myself- but she said back, “Don’t worry, I’ve been there.”

I suppose a lot of people have been “there,” and I was there most of my young adult life. THERE meaning that ugly place where you want to do nothing but sleep or lay in bed looking at the ceiling until you feel like sleeping again and the thoughts and feelings you’re having are leaving you sick to your stomach as you’re imagining the worst things that can happen, feeling like your throat is closing on you. Then of course there are the times when you feel nothing at all for extended periods of time. It’s a shame really, because we’re only young once and I’m burning through it. That fantastic hairy-legged woman who has everything going for her, she admitted to having her ruts just like me, just like anyone else. I asked her how she got out of them and she said, “Time.” That wasn’t the answer I wanted, but it makes the most sense. I guess I just wanted an easier solution.

I have been off of anti-depressants (Prozac and Xanax) for over a year now. I have gone on and off of them for most of my adult life. When I first went off of them for a short period of time in 2013, I decided to conduct this experiment at a pretty unsettling time in my life, right after visiting home (Washington State) for the first time in years, for my grandfather’s funeral, while it was my last semester of college and I had a number of other personal issues. Needless to say, I was back in bed and it was harder than ever to get back of out of it and time escaped me. Months were taken away from me because of my depression and anxiety.

wind_up_bird_by_anodyne_for_the_weak

The Wind Up Bird

The next day after meeting that woman for coffee, I woke up to a text message that read: “I hope you’re awake, you have so much to offer this world.” I don’t think there are many things nicer than that to hear. Getting support from friends feels like being handed a ladder while sitting at the bottom of a well.

When I take my pills, I always imagine them going straight to my brain, waxing and polishing my brain. There’s nothing wrong with taking anti-depressants, nothing pisses me off more than a person bad mouthing someone for taking medications. If someone is trying to improve their life, support them or at least keep it to yourself.

I feel like I have some amount of control over my life right now. The best indicator is that I made it through my first semester of graduate school. In fact, I even gave a seminar on anxiety and how to cope with it in school. Fall semester wrapped up three days ago. My semester is over. My grades are in. 4.0 motherfuckers! Now I am getting ready for the next semester and going through some books I’ve had piling up next to my bed. I am glad I woke up each and every day.

Here is the latest blog I wrote for HappyCow: http://www.happycow.net/blog/holidays-with-the-family-and-the-lone-vegan/

1/4 into my first grad semester…

Once again, I am back on campus, which is why I haven’t been able to write any updaIMG_5042tes in a while. Graduate school is mostly going well but I can’t help but feel clueless half the time. A graduate class is only once a week, so much reading, and some strange projects have left me feeling a little helpless. For my first major assignment in graduate school, I needed to make a YouTube video. The assignment sounded simple but, in the end, it got to the point where I recorded my voice on my phone, played it back to my computer, wrapped it all up and said “fuck it” and uploaded it to YouTube without bothering to listen to it again. The awkwardness of speaking to technology is something that I haven’t gotten over, even talking on a phone doesn’t sit well with me; even knowing that there’s a human on the other end. Maybe carelessly uploading it was not the best decision, but it’s done and that’s what matters. The projects I have now require that I impose on people, making lessons for students and interviewing different people. I definitely feel uncomfortable taking someone out of their way for me, even though everyone I have asked for heIMG_7756lp has not only helped me, but offered to do so much more than what I asked them to do. I guess I’m just lucky to have some really good friends. I already have some results from the second project handed back in from the friends that helped me out. For the second sociolinguistics project I needed to collect voice clips of American, South African, British and Korean accents and we’re trying to find the stigma behind each accent and the person’s nationality. I am not sure if I should laugh or rethink how I talk entirely after seeing some of the results. Guess which one I am:

picsaralizjen

Granted, I was speaking clear and firmly, to make sure that they would be able to understand me…or maybe I have a bitch voice to match “my resting bitch face”. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if I sounded overly stern in the voice clip. I have been thinking that I need to calm down a little bit because sometimes I can too particular in certain ways and it comes across in my voice and mannerisms, so I’m not entirely surprised that I was perceived as being unpleasant. I get more unpleasant when I feel overwhelmed or pressured to hang out with people when I feel like I’m too busy. Since starting graduate school, I feel guilty whenever I go hang out with people because, in the back of my mind, I feel like I could be doing homework or grading homework from my students. While I know that graduate school is important, as well as work, it doesn’t have to be my whole life- it just feels like it is lately and I get bothered when someone interferes with my schedule. Maybe it’s time to pick up mediation or something to get a better handle on my stress of being overwhelmed with the new obligations in my life.

Monday-Friday I’m on campus almost all day. Generally it’s 9am to 9pm Monday through Thursday and Friday it’s 10-3. I am enrolled full time in graduate school, working, auditing an undergrad class and tutoring on the side for some additional money. This doesn’t factor in the homework, grading, and research needed for my courses. For work, I’m teaching again but this time it’s college aged students. Teaching adults is definitely different, but I think I’m more suited to teach adults rather than children. I don’t have the fun, enthusiastic personality that is needed for that kind of job. It’s hard to not get burnt out working with children. Each age group has its redeeming qualities; I just think that I enjoy teaching adults more than anything else. Also, I have a lot more freedom of what I teach in class now that I’m teaching older students. There were so many things that I wanted to do in the classroom but there were too many restrictions because I had a syllabus that I needed to follow very strictly.

I just had the thought that I should be doing homework while writing this …and I probably should be.

Things in my backpack

  • Passport
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • ARC card
  • Aussie adaptor plugs
  • Cosmetics
  • one pair of PJS
  • 3 books
  • 10 pairs of underwear
  • raincoat
  • void checks
  • lap top
  • 10 pairs of socks
  • 1 belts
  • 500 dollars cash
  • Face wash
  • campers shampoo
  • Diva cup
  • Deodorant

Defending my adulthood.

I get a lot of condescending comments when it comes to some of my life choices. Lately, I’ve been cutting right to the implied point: do you think I’m an idiot? Granted, I’m on the defense kind of a lot of the time and it’s pretty pathetic because I’m almost 26 and have a pretty solid understanding of who I am-so why defend myself all the time? Where did this chip on my shoulder come from and how can I get rid of it? Some could say that my messyupiness started the day I decided what I wanted to study in college, which is when a welcome mat for condescending remarks seemed to roll out at my feet. What do you do with a degree in philosophy, people ask me. Well, I guess you just go to graduate school and cry into your pillow each night.

When I’m told to be careful or to remember what’s important by people I respect- I know that they think they’re helping me, but it actually rips me up inside, makes me doubt everything and makes me feel like a child. While many of my peers are starting families and their career, I went to Korea where I saved very little money. This doesn’t mean that I don’t know what’s important, but what’s important varies from person to person. I’m in my late 20’s now and I have friends getting married, some are having children now. The truth of the matter is that those are all things that I want, but there are other important things as well.

People see me with my large backpack and ask me a million questions: is it safe to travel alone? Are your parents mad? Are you stupid?! Sure, every female backpacker I’ve met has her own stories; most of them are only stories to be told after a few drinks. However, the stories generally end with “at least I have a good story.” Despite all the crazy things I’ve heard, I’ve never heard words of regret, saying they wish they hadn’t traveled and just saved their money for this or that. I hate being questioned for the choices that I’ve made or that I should have done things differently. It is what it is, I say. Like when a person questions my tattoo choices…it is what it is, it’s permanent and I have to live with it.

I know there’s plenty to negatively comment on regarding how I am as an individual. I’m extremely introverted, but I love talking to strangers that I will never see again but if I know you, I could sit silently in a room for hours with you. I forget to shave for months at a time. I appear to be a last minute kind of person because I only tell people what I’ve been planning right before I do it. I have a hard time saying no to people. I trust people too fast. I drink wine at bars, in a wine glass-like a huge douche. I have my faults like anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that my choices are delusional. I paid my rent and I have no debt, despite taking [sometimes] weird routes to get that done and sometimes sucking up my pride and accepting the help of others. My “irrational” life choices aren’t me running away from adulthood, it’s me embracing it because I know I’m allowed to do whatever I want- even if that means messing up.

I don’t have any pictures to share for this but I did just finish reading “Girl in a Band”, so I thought I’d add a Sonic Youth song that I listened to while writing this.

Travel thoughts

When people told me that Sydney is expensive, they weren’t kidding. My first two days here I image-1lived off of a bag of crackers and a bag of candy that generous people offered up to me in passing. I guess girl-with-a-60L-backpack is like wearing a sign that says, “Feed me, please.” The hostel I stayed at my first night offered me toast and one-dollar unlimited instant coffee that I took full advantage of, going back for thirds until my body was shaking with the power of caffeine.

I’m currently in a suburb of Sydney, working for a permaculturalist. I didn’t realize how far out of the city it was, and I made the journey here on foot with my monster of a backpack as the sun was going down. It took a few hours but I finally made it to my location, feeling exhausted and stinking of sweat. Almost right after walking through the door, I admired my host and I’ve learned a lot from her already. Probably the most valuable thing I’ve learned so far is how to make healthier meals and I’ve learned a bit about the food industry in America-which is essentially designed to destroy our body. Goddamnit America, you produce so many great things but so many things that are detrimental to human and nonhuman well being.

It’s been two weeks here and I don’t yet feel like a true backpacker. All of my clothes smell clean and I have make up on everyday and a shower every other day-pretty typical behavior. My feet definitely tell another story; they’re covered in seemingly cemented on dirt and they smell in a way that surpasses any smell they’ve ever exhumed. They’re also covered in blisters and cuts, from poor walking shoes. There’s dirt under my nails, my leg hair is long and soft and my armpit hair is causing me to itch under my arms, as well as holding in the smell of sweat with me all day. I’ve been told I look grungy, so in that sense, I guess I give off the aura of a backpacker (don’t you just feel like that aura color would be pea-green?).

The most challenging part of living in shared environments isn’t what you’d think it would be- personality differences, different ideas of what “clean” means- but for me it’s bathroom stuff. It’s so hard to go to the bathroom in a house full of people; my body won’t allow it (because it’s all really just psychological, well partly). After two days of being unable to relax, I was tempted to just hunt down a Macdonald’s and use their toilet. People can’t judge me there: it’s Macdonald’s, a place of shame on all levels, a safe haven. I’ve taken advantage of Macdonald’s already: using their Wi-Fi, as finding free Wi-Fi here is a bit of a challenge.

I haven’t spoken to many people back home since arriving here. When people ask me how I am or what I have been up to, I’ve been responding with one-word answers. After the fifth time of telling the same story, I start reducing my responses to “I’m well, thanks” and “things are going well.” Truth be told, I AM doing well. I am tired a lot, but I think tiredness is my natural state of being.

And tiredness juimagest means that I’m doing things, right? However, my tiredness today is on account of something else. The rain was pounding on the roof so hard the other night, that I had trouble sleeping. I saw a possum scurrying across the roof next door, looking like a distorted cat through the rain and dark. Needless to say, I was terrified. With every wind-induced rattle of the door I imagined that it was the possum here to infect me with rabies. I ended up reading an entire book, it was a romance novel and it was just dorky enough to keep me satisfied and help my brain think less about giant Australian rodents.

Tomorrow I’m seeing a friend. We met up once and he’s willing to hang out with me again. He’s such a nice guy that he’s even offered me a place to stay if I need it. I’m so grateful for helpful people but I’m doing my part in being safe here in Aussieland, as a lone woman traveler. It’s a fine line…maybe.

Arriving in Aussieland

It’s winter in Australia. Australia’s winters are like a mild fall day in New England, they’re10988507_1148783421803773_601872612025205107_o pleasant and some days it just drizzles nonstop. My first four days in Sydney was full of sunshine and I even broke out in a sweat while I walked from central station to the Sydney Opera House. It felt like Sydney was greeting me, in a way. But now it’s been almost two weeks and the weather is back to its usual self.

My flight here was fine, being on planes so often, I never have any trouble with them. Flying kind of puts me in a trance, the moment I sit down- I pass out. I slept through take off and probably would have slept through landing if the guy next to me didn’t shake me awake. He was the first Aussie I met since embarking on this journey, and I kind of got a lesson of how Australian men are- flirty. He wasn’t meant to be my seating partner but asked the girl next to me if she’d switch spots with him- then he proceeded to ask me if I’d hold his hand during take off. After landing, I snuck passed him and made way to the international passport check poi11059485_1148782338470548_7264826491780408015_ont.

My first night in Sydney, I went straight to Kings Cross and booked a hostel for the night. I did a lot of laundry, even though one load cost 6 dollars, but using a drier again made it worth it.

A very sweet, beautiful German girl walked me all the way to the hostel- just to make sure I was all right. I’m really taken aback by all the kindness I’ve experienced here so far. Even though I had just arrived, I was sad that I had to leave in a few weeks already. How can I already feel sad about that?

My time in Korea has come to an end.

I made my blog private because it’s been over six months since I had last posted anything, and it’s embarrassing. Admittedly, the past six months flew by and the days kind of all blended together, so there was nothing notable resulting from my work as a teacher or my time out drinking in Samson-dong, Ulsan. My year teaching in Korea has come to an end almost a month ago, and I left Korea about ten days ago after spending two weeks of not working, just staying with friends and exploring the cities I was always too busy to really appreciate while working. Truth be told, I spent most of that free time in PC bangs and cafes reading Murakami books. My last three months could be summed up as this: several Murakami books, a Busan trip to see Ellen and a CAM00977lot of blisters on my feet from excessive walking around cities.

My goodbye party lasted until 3am in the morning, which I shouldn’t have been surprised by, as Koreans never seem to sleep. I think the year I spent in Korea aged me significantly, as I gained more weight than I care to admit, drank more than I needed to and went off of four hours of sleep on a day-to-day basis. Naturally, I didn’t re-sign for another year in Korea because I don’t think I’m up for it- granted if I were to stay there another year, I would have lived that year differently.

While there are a lot of things that I would have done differently but it’s pointless discussing that now. I made some of the best friends I’ve ever made while I was in Korea, I made some important life decisions and I’ve ended relationships as well. A lot of it was stressful and heart breaking but I don’t know what else to do except break ties and move on and do what I think is right in the end. I know this is vague but I can’t handle being more detailed on certain, painful topics.

As things are moving forward, I do have hope that I will not regret the decisions I’ve made. Once September starts I’ll be starting graduate school. I can’t wait to get back in a classroom as a student again, to be on a campus and to study in a library all day. I will be auditing an undergraduate course as well, there’s so much that I want to learn this year and to make it up to myself for abandoning my goals and living a year of watered down ambitions and tiny dreams for my fIMG_0373uture. I’ve always been an ambitious person but I tend to overwhelm myself with possibilities and I jump the gun all the time, thinking that I have it figured out when I actually don’t really have a clue. I start things, a lot of things, but completion is something I struggle with. When I have something I want to achieve- I don’t want to start it or even think about it unless I know I can go through with it and get something out of it. I suppose we’ll see how that goes. So for this year it will be completing my first year of graduate school.

Over a month in South Korea

busan2

I experienced a little bit of culture shock and felt very alone the first week of getting here. I was working the same day I got in from America; at least I got in Thursday night at midnight and was working Friday. I had just had my surgery, had jet lag and I woke up feeling tired and sore, only to go to work to work a ten-hour day. I feel that the work culture in Asia is very different from what I’m used to.

Koreans work too many hours a day. It’s common for a Korean to work over ten hours a day or more, without getting overtime. I asked if I would be getting overtime one evening when I was asked to stay later, the idea kind of seemed foreign to them. Needless to say, no, I won’t be making overtime (even for the time when I need to be at work until 2am).

My days have been passing pretty quickly; I have almost been here two months already. On the weekends, I tend to travel around Korea. Last weekend I went to Busan, which was amazing. So far my favorite city has been Daegu and I might be biased because my boyfriend lives there but it’s also clean

hike6

and the surrounding areas are pretty. I live in Ulsan, which is smaller than those other cities but there are still over a million people here.

The weekends for most people in Korea generally consist of a lot of heavy drinking. I have had a lot of rough Sunday mornings, where I spend most of the morning vomiting and moaning into my pillow, promising to never drink again. During my trip to Busan, I accidentally drank a bit too much and ended up buying rounds for everyone at my table. I’m not sure what is worse, the hang over or the wasted money. In any case, I think I need to not drink gin anymore. busan

I am happy to be in Korea. A lot of times I leave my apartment and think “Oh shit, I’m in Korea.” It’s sometimes hard to believe that I’m living on the other side of the world. I know that I’m really lucky to be able to see things that most Americans don’t get the chance to see. I have been very lucky to be able to live in Europe and travel around it and now to live in Asia. I want to use every weekend here to see everything that I can. I’m not sure how long I’ll be here, so I should use my time here wisely and try to see as much as I can.

I am psyched about seeing Japan at the end of this month with my American coworkers (two of them). I will post pictures and let you know how it is.

Woman Bashing

OH, I wrote this.

BITCHTOPIA

silhouette-of-two-women-arguing-uid-1344566-1

I find it hard to believe that this is an experience that is only limited to myself. I often hear it in class, I hear it at bars, and in groups of friends: women proclaiming, “I just can’t hang out with other women” or “I prefer to be around men, they’re just easier to get along with.” Also, my personal favorite, “Girls just create too much drama!” If I have any pet peeves, this is probably it.

There are a couple of things that come to mind when I hear this. First, that I am a woman and that I am next to this person and I have ears. So yeah, I’m a woman with ears and you don’t like hanging out with me (or would prefer not to) because of my sex. Secondly, and maybe this ought to leave me more confused than anything, the speaker is also female.

View original post 433 more words