010. towels

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i had done a lot of preparation for my first trip to korea in 2011, but i never anticipated that one of my first culture shocks would be the size of the towels.  during the first week that i was there, i stayed at hi seoul youth hostel.  i reserved a private room for 4 days and it was like i was staying at a luxurious hotel, but without the price tag. 10/10 would recommend.

while i was checking out my quarters, i noticed that the bathroom had been stocked with what appeared to be hand towels only. so i called the front desk and requested some bath towels.  when i received these “bath towels” i discovered that in korea, there was no apparent distinction between bath towels and hand towels.  it was rather shocking since i was used to using huge towels at home after a bath or shower.  i later learned that this is because most korean homes don’t have adequate space to store gigantic towels, so the smaller towel is a clever way to utilize available space and still get the job done.

a friend later taught me how i could use one of these towels to wrap my hair after a shower, a skill i am rather proud of.  however, i never became advanced enough to use less than two towels per shower.  it’s still a bit of a work in progress.

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009. it hurts

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here’s something i didn’t really want to talk about on the internet (or to anyone at all if i’m being honest): i’m having trouble getting pregnant.

i have scrapped this post so many times because it’s terrifying to admit to random strangers on the internet that i’m having this kind of issue, information i’ve only shared with a handful of people irl.  every time i started to write this post, a voice in my head was like, whoa, hang on. are you sure you want to share your personal business so publicly?  and the answer, at last, is yes.

for my entire life i have been worried about what other people think of me.  but recently i read this article and i was like, you know what? fuck that.  i’m tired of seeking the approval of people i don’t respect.  i’m tired of feeling like i need to get permission from others to do the things i want to do.  news flash: i don’t need anyone’s approval but my own.

so i decided to make a change, starting with the very personal business of my reproductive health.

i know i’m not the only one out there going through this.  every time i discover that someone i follow on social media had trouble getting pregnant, i search for their story, desperate for a little hope or inspiration.  because it’s been hard for me.  i’m stuck on an endless roller coaster of emotions, and not a fun roller coaster.  one of those old rickety ones that snaps you back and forth and you’re sitting there clenching the safety bar like, when is the last time this thing was inspected? because it feels like it might collapse at any moment.  and you can’t stop the thoughts that fill your mind, like: why can’t my body seem to do the one thing it was programmed to do? and how long will it take me to conceive? will i ever get there? and sometimes: do i even want to get there anymore?  it goes on and on and on.

and here’s another thing.  the whole infertility/difficulty conceiving thing being shrouded in so much shame? that’s bullshit.  there is so much secrecy and misinformation surrounding the female body and i’m sick of it.  and what i can do now to try and change this is to join the conversation myself.  maybe my story will help someone else feel not so alone.  and maybe no one will ever read this. and that’s fine too.

but if you’ve come this far, i’m not asking for sympathy or advice, and i’m not fishing for words of encouragement. i am simply putting my thoughts into words and pictures and leaving it out there.  a kind of self therapy to help me process the tough stuff.  i am feeling my feelings and moving on.

here we go.

the caption to this cartoon drawn on march 12, 2017:

why didn’t anyone tell me how difficult it is to get pregnant? (or, more like why did everyone make it sound so easy?)

i’ve found myself lying on the bathroom floor with a late period and a negative pregnancy test more times than i thought i would when we started and it hurts.

008.

008. Couple Jackets

it is common for korean couples to dress the same as a way to show off their couple status: matching jackets, shoes, shirts, hats, you name it.  newly married couples may even purchase pj sets to wear on their honeymoon and in their newlywed life.  it’s something i love, and something i always strive for in our relationship. we always ask, “what’s the code?” meaning, “how are you going to dress?” and try to match where we can.  we have purchased the same winter jackets, hiking boots and shoes wherever we could, and sometimes if there isn’t an equivalent male clothing option he’ll just buy up a size or two in the women’s option. so we can show that we are a couple. i love it.

 

006. be my tutor

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how i pressured my husb into being my tutor back in 2011 after my previous tutor returned to korea.  he really didn’t want to do it, but eventually he caved.  i agreed to buy him lunch once a week in exchange for korean lessons. i’m not sure why i was so persistent, but i guess it ended up working out well for us in the end✨

005. socks

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i can’t really pinpoint when i stopped sleeping through the night but it’s been years.  sometimes i sleep talk and sometimes i’ve found myself walking around the apartment awake enough to realize i’m moving but not fully awake enough to know why.

in addition, my temperature changes a few times throughout the night, so i often wake up wearing more or less clothing than i went to bed with. sometimes, apparently, my mister helps me along.  i’m quite lucky to have found such a caring person.

004. first meeting

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jake and i met in college.  i asked my friend to study together in the library one day, and she invited him to join us.  my first impression of him was that he seemed nice but wasn’t quite my style.  he wasn’t interested in me because i’m american.  we started dating about eight months later.

003. it will be okay

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i haven’t posted much since last year because a lot of things happened in november that just brought me down.  one of those things was an abnormal lump i found in my breast.  i drew this picture to help process some uncertain feelings i had while waiting to get the results of a needle biopsy.  luckily, everything turned out fine but it was scary.

also the hospital garment reminded me of 한복 so that helped a little bit ♡

002. jake

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my husband goes by jake at work and with my grandfather, and i never really know what to call him when i’m talking about him because i just call him 여보 at home and i have mixed feelings about adopting english names but i’m just going to go with jake here.  anyway we just passed our unofficial third anniversary…and things have just gotten better with time. more complicated and more challenging, but definitely better ♡