Tag Archives: Friendship

Cool-ass Korean women

A lot of people out here say it can be difficult to get behind the veil of Korean culture–if you’re not “우리” (pronunced “oo-ri”, meaning us/our) then in general you just don’t get to see behind the public facade.

I’ve met a few Korean people (and quite a few non-Korean people) who have been pretty conservative, or who haven’t let their guards down.

But I’ve also met some mind-blowingly cool, honest, down-to-earth Korean women and this post is about two of them.

I didn’t really have an easy time of working in Korea my first year here, but there are two women who made my experience downright bearable. One is Mrs. L, the school nurse at my high school. There were days when I would walk into school nearly in tears from the anger/frustration/depression of being isolated (the only foreigner; the only non-Korean speaker; boss/person I share an office with generally refusing to acknowledge my presence) at that school. “Literally no one in this school cares about me,” I would think. I would hear teachers talking and laughing in the other rooms and see them sharing treats, and I would sit in my office cold and alone (I’m thinking about winter here because Christmastime abroad is particularly lonely).

But over the course of that year, Mrs. L and I developed a true friendship. She is about 40 or 45, and she married young, but she is a free spirit at heart and quite honest. During the course of our year-long teacher class, we talked about beauty, health, plastic surgery, women’s rights, bullying, and a range of other topics, and she always surprised me with her candor and thoughtfulness.

More than that, though, it was to her that I would turn when I dragged myself into the office feeling like shit. In Korea, you don’t call out, so I would come to school feeling terrible and longing for my home country, where people would rather you come home than bring your cold to the office. 

I would go into her office and she’d comfort me, give me medicine, and let me lay in one of the clinic beds. It meant the world to me to be taken care of–to be shown care toward.

And it was her who, once my contract was over, organized a goodbye luncheon for a few cool beyotches (my word) where they told me that they didn’t like my boss either; that she is a strange sort and quite difficult to work with–I was blown away first by being assured that I’m not crazy and second by the level of trust we established for a Korean to somewhat-badmouth another Korean to a foreigner.

The other cool-ass Korean woman I want to tell you all about is my belly-dancing teacher, Ms. K. 

I want to ask her about herself; how did she end up having a career in bellydancing? And she’s really good–she can shimmy, wiggle, drop, bounce, and sway with the best of them. Plus, her splits are to die for. I find this fascinating, but we have a serious language barrier we’re slowly bringing down (we’re about the same level in each others’ respective languages–which is more than we’d originally assumed, because it’s easy to be more than none, but we still can’t have in-depth conversations).

Although we can’t really talk about anything, she cemented herself in my mind as a cool-ass woman today when I showed up to class with a bandage under my ribs from a new tattoo. I thought she would kind of freak–tattoos are pretty rare/frowned upon here. But duh. She’s a bellydance teacher. Of course she’d be more liberal right?

She asked me if I was hurt and I told her it was from a tattoo, and she just told me she wanted to get a tattoo on the back of her shoulder. Then she asked me if I would be OK for dancing, and we got the hell on with things.

So cool, and I really think that over time we will end up being friends, even if we can’t talk to each other much.

Anyway that’s it–I just wanted to update about these two women who were on my mind.

 

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Noticing

It has slowly occurred to me over the past couple of weeks how  careful  I have been this past year. I have set boundaries for myself that are really designed to make sure that I’m always presenting myself in “the best” light (one that I have deemed appropriate of a 26-year-old).

My coteacher told me the other day that I think too much about what other people think of me. This was because we hadn’t been getting along and I told her I was concerned that this would make the vice principal dislike me (and therefore all Americans and blacks, my mind continued). 

My coteacher told me that we were at a busy high school and people had better things to do than worry about me (my coteacher is very direct).

In a way, I guess this is what going abroad is for. It’s to remove you from everything that was familiar and place you square in front of your one true common denominator: you. You are your common denominator, and there’s no arguing that in a place where nothing is the same as it was before. If I’m having similar types of problems (or achievements!) then they stem from me and facts is facts.

But back to being careful.

Last year I had some experiences that just made me feel like I was making an ass of myself entirely too much to be 25 years old, and so I began to set a lot of boundaries for myself so that I wouldn’t do that.

And without commenting on whether or not that’s “good” or “bad,” I will say that it has helped me to achieve my goal of not making an ass of myself.

But it has also contributed to me developing a trepidation toward “loosening up,” really loosening up. Because even when I’m hanging out and having fun, I’m still very much trying to maintain a level of control so that things don’t get out of hand.

Is this just regular ol’ growing up?

Last weekend I went to Seoul, and I wanted to spend only Friday night there. I wanted to come home Saturday night and do my regular ol bullshit of staying up until 5 am watching TV on the internet and laying around and whatnot.

Well, things ended up playing out in such a manner that I stayed in Seoul (with my friends) on Saturday night too, and at first I was inexplicably sad. And then I thought to myself “what’s the harm in staying another night, really? Yeah you’ll spend money you didn’t mean to and you’ll be tired…..but so what? Loosen up.” And that was the first time I realized how tense I’ve been for the past year (I had a great night btw).

I’ve started drinking again, and last night I was at a wine bar and I was drunk. As my friend C put it, “I can tell you’re drunk because you haven’t reapplied your lipstick” (I had just bought some $40 Chanel red lipstick, heaven help me). And I insisted I wasn’t drunk as a drunk person must.

And then this guy in our friend group turns to me and say something like “You just noticed me.” And I was confused, but not confused. I knew what he meant, but it was surprising to hear it said out loud.

And I feigned noncomprehension and insisted that I’d been talking with, of and to him the entire night, but I still knew what he meant, which is hard to articulate, but it’s the difference between looking and seeing I guess. 

And he said “well maybe you’re just more discreet when you’re sober,” and it hit me. Yet another area where I’ve been so tense, so afraid to take a risk, so afraid of getting rejected or making an ass of myself. I’m so afraid to get caught even noticing a guy, for this crippling fear of rejection and humiliation and of course making an ass of myself.

What is the balance? How do I open up and show the true me without fear of people’s (or my own) judgement, yet also conduct myself with the decorum that suggests that I’m 26, not 19?

Or am I already doing that and just thinking too much?

 

26

Forgiveness,

I think,

Means giving up control.

I say this because it has recently been brought to my attention that I am not a very forgiving person. And by recently, I mean this past summer. And by brought to my attention, I mean that I have been experiencing situations involving forgiveness and they have shown me to myself.

I have had multiple situations involving friends where we have left FURIOUS at each other, and then some time later the relationship seems to repair itself–usually, they extend their hand in a display of forgiveness of some sort.

Through these multiple (no seriously, multiple) situations, I have slowly developed the ability to look at myself and my reactions in relation to them and theirs.

Were we both angry?

Yes.

Did we both feel that we had the right to be angry?

Yes.

Did we both say fuck it and write each other out of our lives forever?

Y–wait. 

No.

That was just me.

I realized something on the drive home just today and that is that I am a control freak.

Pause for laughter from everyone who knows me well.

Yes,

need like to be in control of things.

Take, for example, my upcoming semester schedule.

I am doing my Practicum (student teaching) through a place that, up until about 3 hours ago, hadn’t let me know what dates and times I’m expected to be there with my mentor (outside of stuff like “just plan to be there a lot).

This. Was Driving. Me. NUTS.

It wasn’t the fact that I’d have to be there a lot. I’m fine with that. 

It was the fact that I didn’t know my schedule–I couldn’t plan how I was going to spend my days; I couldn’t RSVP to any meetup activities; I couldn’t give my boss a for-sure work schedule; I couldn’t get a set-in-stone mental picture of the requirements of my weeks–I felt like I didn’t have any control.

And somehow, this idea of control jumped from my schedule to my relationships, where I realized that in them, too, I need like to be in control.

But perhaps for someone like me, who has been hurt a lot in a variety of relationships from a very young age, being in control of relationships means being the one who controls all of the negativity, since somehow my understanding of relationships apparently hinges on the fact that they are fundamentally things that have the power to hurt you very much.

So for someone like me, who believed that she must hold all the hurt cards because she must be in control,

Forgiveness was not really possible. 

And being forgiven was not to be trusted.

Which makes being forgiven a very curious sensation. 

OK.

Downright uncomfortable.

The first thought is always suspicion. “What the fuck is this person texting me for like we’re cool? Is this some kind of trick?”

The second thought is…well…suspicion.

“I don’t need anyone’s fake forgiveness. I’m going to hold onto my anger even tighter now because they need to be punished.”

The third thought is pretty much confusion.

“What the hell do they keep calling for? Are we friends for real?”

The fourth is something along the lines of begrudging acceptance. But beneath it is still suspicion.

“Well OK. Long as they keep playing nice I’ll play nice. But I’m out at the first fuckup!” (in these types of situations, fuckups can be either real or perceived).

I realized this past year that I was holding onto these grudges in these situations as a way to maintain control of a relationship that I was in some way hurt by, and that I was withholding forgiveness in these situations as a way to try to punish the people involved for hurting me.

Sometimes this works and you can manipulate someone into being your emotional footstool.

Me,

Try as I might,

I just suck at manipulating folks. I think I am just too damn dramatic or something, I don’t know. It doesn’t work like that for me.

But on the drive home today, I thought about all of the relationships that are repaired around me every day. Relationships that happened between people where people were hurt, 

But they somehow worked it out,

And I asked myself why, years after the relationship went in a direction that I found to be hurtful, do I STILL have some people blocked on my facebook. And why I continue to block out people who I feel have hurt me.

And I realized the answer was control–if I couldn’t control a thing going “right,” then it would be wrong on my terms. 

 And then I realized that seizing control of a broken thing to that degree completely removed from it the option to heal itself, 

Like it were a garden that didn’t blossom and so in my anger I dug up the seeds and roots and put them in a jar in my closet,

Instead of just leaving them in the ground,

Turning them over to the soil and the rain,

As I go about my days.

 

 

P.S. I’ll be 26 in a week. I think this is what I learned this year, and what I will take with me into the next.

Video

Only You

So I took a road trip this weekend with my friend K. She’s one of my best friends and basically my partner in crime, except that we don’t commit no crimes. And what I mean by don’t commit no crimes is that we don’t get caught.

Anyway,

on the drive back we were talking about boys (briefly) (oh I guess I mean men). And I was telling her that the only time that I ever really want a boyfriend is when I don’t have a best friend. Like, when I’m really lonely. And she was kind of saying something similar, except that I’ve never known her to want a boyfriend haha.

Well to wrap things up, today I was preparing to study for my class (dickin around on the internet), and I found this. So, this song is dedicated to my wonderful friends.

I think it fits.

Together but not Together

I was just sitting down to lunch with my friend T when I get a text from my mom.

“Do you want to go see ‘Wicked‘ in October?” she asked.

To which I of course emphatically replied “YES!!!”

Of course I want to see “Wicked”–this is par the course for sure.

My mom then replies “OK. Do you think your friend will want to come?”

…and here is where I’d like to pause.

Judge me if you must: I have a new friend. Well, not a friend friend. A friend. You know what I’m talking about.

And my mom…I guess she knows now not to leave me to my own doings with guys and friends, because she has been trying her best to include him in things even though we have not been friends long enough for him to be included.

So I reply “I don’t really think that’s his thing. I’ll see if one of my girlfriends wants to go.”

So I told my friend T about the show and asked her if she wanted to go and she replied “You might have a boyfriend by then, girl.”

To which I replied, “…I don’t really think that’s what he and I are doing.”

“Even if you do everything else like a couple?!” she exclaimed.

“Yep,” I said. “I like this how it is. Why change it?”

“Until he starts to date someone else,” she said.

And I shrugged. Because if he wants to date someone else, what will a title do about that?

Maybe my perspective on relationships is a little skewed, but ever since I was a prepubescent girl, I have always wanted to be together but not together with someone.

In fact, that’s how I fell in love with my first love. We would talk on the phone every night. We went on a couple dates. He would have girlfriends. I would have boyfriends. But we both knew what it was between us.

I have a hard time with “shoulds,” and that’s what a title-bearing relationship is to me: an ass bag of shoulds. It’s the difference between renting a car and owning a car. Of course you love your rental–what’s not to love? I get to ride it till the wheels fall off, I get to stunt–get the make and model and color I want (and I did, bt-dubbs), and I get to take it back immediately if it starts acting up. Not. My. Responsibility.

So if I get the floors vacuumed, that’s my choice. If I choose to lovingly hand wash that bad boy and turtle wax it, that’s my choice. If I decide to take it for a tune up or an oil change, that’s my choice. Those are my choices that I make because I’m enjoying the ride and I want to keep stunting.

But they are not my obligations.

I told my friend T, “You know the minute he asks me to be his girlfriend I’m going to get mad at him, like ‘Remember 3 days ago when I texted you and you didn’t reply for four hours?? I’m your girlfriend now and I have the right to demand what the hell were you doing!!!'”

And we cracked up because it’s true.

Right now, he and I have no reason to fight about anything because we have no expectations of each other. Any nice thing he does for me is a treat. And if he doesn’t [insert random trivial thing that will end up being a relationship landmine], that’s fine too. Because I wasn’t even thinking about it. Because I don’t expect anything from him.

Right now, it’s working because it’s working. Neither of us has any sort of end line in site that we’re trying to pull the other one toward. He and I are just a steady stroll on the beach, kicking through the water, enjoying the breeze and the salt and the spray.

Why I’m Single Reason No. 864: I Just Can’t Quite Get This Flirting Thing Down

Sploosh

…So today I was on the Face Space (Facebook). And I was geeking off a conversation I had with my girl T last night about how I can’t be dealing with dudes right now because they distract me. I was telling her that the only things I need to be obsessed with right now are my money, career and grad school–my life. I literally cannot afford to give a dude a spot in the preciously limited real estate market of my mind.

And I know myself well enough to know that if I get involved with someone, they’re gonna get acres of brain space. For FREE.

Not a good investment.

So I made a facebook page and named it DaGame Jackson and married myself to it on FB so I could say I’m married to da game.

So I have this friend.

And, see, he doesn’t know we have a love/hate relationship. I’m pretty sure he just has a regular old “that’s my friend” relationship with me.

But I have a love/hate relationship with him because I think he’s sooo cute and smart, and yet he has the NERVE to not be trying to be my boyfriend.

Not that I necessarily want a boyfriend right now, but still. Positively insufferable.

But…here’s the thing. I think that like once a year or once every two years…this dude does flirt with me. And…see…what I think I’m doing is flirting back.

But what I’m actually doing is shooting him down or jokingly brushing him off.

Today I was talking to my girl K (she’s one of the few people with whom I can share the absurdity of my make-believe love/hate relationship with my very consistent and overall cool ass friend without being labeled) about how this time, I got it. This time, he sort of flirted with me and I sort of flirted back and it was perfect. PERFECT. A glorious mix of subtlety and openness that signaled to him with complete clarity that if he thinks he might want to take it there then I’m sort of thinking that I might be kinda ready to release my sensual womanhood on him, at least in part. A little.

So I’m telling her about my triumph, and I’m laughing like, “Yeeahhh, damn it feels good to be a gangsta.”

And she busts out laughing, like “What?! That’s not flirting! That’s joking!”

Bubble? Meet pin. Pin? Meet–oohp! No more bubble.

What the?

Who the?

And for a while, I was making my case about how I was definitely flirting, until she reminded me that the last time I thought I was flirting with this dude what I was actually saying was “Shut the fuck up. HAHAHAHAHA.”

…so I conceded that I may have missed the mark on flirting just a tad this time as well.

I can’t flirt. And I have no idea why! When I was like 16/17, I used to be all about the sensuality. Lingering eyes, shirts that dip just a little past the crests of my newly-developed breasts, giggles–I was too much for my own damn self. A self-decided seductress.

But sometime over the years, I dropped the ball(s) (pun intended), and I have drawn so far into myself that I am, at my most mild, extremely awkward when trying to flirt, and at my most drunken, probably actually bordering on lecherous/harassing.

But I’ve completely lost the art of the flirtatious tete-a-tete, of coming toward, then running away. I’m either barreling forward or, if I really like you, staying the hell away so as not to drive you away from me.

Today, I was talking to one of my aunts about another guy friend of mine whose company I really enjoy. I was asking her what would be the best way to approach being in each others’ company more often. But even in that conversation, I was running away, telling her, “You know what? I have too much fun with this dude–I just need to not talk to him for a while.”

“What?!” she said, laughing. “That’s completely opposite!”

…You Mean to Tell Me it’s all Because I’m a Virgo??

Samantha, I am not

N.B.: This is another post that you might find yourself feeling like you know too much about me after reading

If you’ve been following my blog fairly regularly, you probably know by now that I am terrible at boys. Because boys is an action word–they’re something you do.

Tee hee.

But seriously.

If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know by now that I am very good at saying single. In the immortal words of my mother, who flippantly threw them out to her friend on the phone one day when I was a teen:

“Bryoney can’t keep a man.”

[SB: Doesn’t that suck about families? Every embarrassing thing you do becomes phone fodder for the girlfriends.]

To tell you the truth, I really don’t know how to interact with boys. Well, not straight ones anyway. I am fabulous at forming friendships with homosexual males (excuse the use of the stereotypical word “fabulous”), but I have this way of systematically destroying the close friendships I form with heterosexual guys through the introduction of sex.

I think it sort of stems from being constantly told as a child that:

1) Men only want one thing

and

2) Good girls do what they’re told and give people what they want.

Does anyone else see how I could find those two thoughts confusing? Although, not to be wholly unfair to my upbringing, I think it also has a lot to do with that b**** confusing me and twisting things to make her case about why it’s totally cool to take your friendships “there.”

I guess for some people it probably is. In fact, I have always pictured myself as the sort of empowered woman who could reverse the roles and use a man for what he wanted to use me for and shift all the paradigms of the universe in the process.

Little did I know about the power of sex–a universe full of paradigms unto itself. And even less did I know about the universe full of paradigms in me that only ever jumps to the forefront of my mind and heart when someone is jumping to the forefront of my physical being.

Last night, I began the process of destroying yet another one of my friendships with one of my heterosexual male friends through the universal paradigm shift that comes with sex.

We didn’t have sex.

We really didn’t, guys. I don’t even want to bang this guy, or any guy unless we’ve arrived at some sort of mutual understanding that I’m his woman and if he bangs some other woman during the time span in which we have made our agreement then it’s within my rights to cut it off.

Kidding!

I’m only kidding, guys!

….I just was kind of drunkenly flirting with my heterosexual male friend, and…OK, OK I may have asked him if I could put my boobs on him.

But that’s it!! Hello?! Harmless!

But he said no because I was drunk and so I of course took that to mean he hated me and thought I was ugly so I immediately told him I wasn’t his friend anymore, 5th grade style.

Yeah! Take that!

…but even in my drunken haze I could think semi-clearly enough to eventually arrive at the conclusion that his rejection of my boobage wasn’t worth throwing away a two-year friendship–and so I tried to make nice with him by telling him that even though I’m not sure I want to be his friend since he thinks I’m ugly and unattractive, I do think it’s probably unhealthy to not be his friend because he didn’t want me to put my boobs on him.

…..I don’t handle rejection well.

Today, my good friend T let me borrow a book of hers called “Sextrology.”

Guess what that was about.

Now, I sort of waffle back and forth on the whole astrology thing. On the one hand, I’m a Christian, so astrology is a pretty big no-no. On the other, though, it’s fascinating, and often times eerily accurate.

Like today.

Let me just quote a few of the phrases that describe my plight in the words I never had the thoughts to use:

“The truth is, these earth girls are easy. And Virgo tries her damnedest to signal sexual interest in a man, even letting herself be ‘caught’ with her eyes alighting upon his crotch. She hangs on a guy’s every word, leaning into the conversation, all ears and heaving cleavage, listening as if in a state of suspended fascination. She thinks she’s sending out a clear message of sexual availability–instead, she merely makes a man feel at ease, winning her the dubious honor of being ‘easy to talk to.'”

What the fuck?! OK–who’s been following me around with a notebook?

“Virgo’s brand of sibling affection works both ways, as men tend to love her, first and foremost, as a sister, succumbing to the mass hallucination that nobody is ever good enough for her, not even themselves. Still, it is indeed confounding that so voluptuous a creature, so desperate to express her sexuality, is so often left without a date on a Saturday night.”

Guess what day and time of day it is right now. And I’m at home blogging.

And one more for the road:

“Talk about loaded: Virgo is not only a whole lotta woman physically, she also places tremendous expectations on what another female might simply consider a crush.”

…*shoves binder with Mrs. [Insert current crush’s last name] scribbled all over the cover and on each sheet of paper under the bed.