Saturday, November 25, 2006

84. Any Dream Will Do.

I’m one of those people who remembers all their dreams. At least when I first wake up… I actually have to spend a few minutes sort of debriefing in the morning (what I call my ‘morning sit’… where I just sit and recount my dream to myself). Days when I am rushed, and I don’t get to do this I feel really off all day. Sort of disoriented and hazy. Not sure what that means, it’s just a fact of my life.

Now, I’m not one of those people who feels the need to analyze all my dreams. I realize that they are mostly just silliness… for example, the dream I had the other night that I was saving a little girl (who turned out to be an alien) from a murderous and vengeful Magnum P.I. probably didn’t mean anything at all. Most of my dreams are just wackiness, and I enjoy them, (and I am one of those people who likes to tell other people about my dreams… I try and reign that impulse in though, cause I’ve heard that it annoys some people… of course, to balance this out, I totally like hearing about other people’s wacky dreams… my old roommate and I used to spend our morning sits sitting on the couch and recounting our dreams to each other. I miss that, actually… okay, tangent over now.)

I’ve spent a large portion of my life moving around… I once counted and by the time I’d graduated high school, I’d moved 10 times, going to 10 different schools. And since then I haven’t exactly remained stationery. I’ve since lived in Ottawa (for university), Ireland, Belize and now Korea.

What do these two things have to do with each other? Well, whenever I have moved, I’ve always made a note of when my dreams changed… like I vividly remember the first dream I had that took place in Korea… or the first one that happened in Ireland, Belize, Winnipeg, Ottawa… etc… I attach a lot of significance to those dreams. Not to the content or plot of them, but to the location. I figure that those dreams mean that I’ve adjusted to my new location. I feel comfortable and safe, and no longer need to reach back to my previous location to feel at home.

So, what does this have to do with this blog? Well… I’ve had several lesbian dreams recently. No, not sex dreams, and not nightmares… I mean, dreams where I’m a lesbian and it’s all okay and nobody (not even me) cares. Like the one I had the other night where I was getting married to this girl, but I backed out the day of my wedding because I wasn’t in love with her and all of my friends (including my church friends) were upset because they were excited about the wedding (which was being held in a church, by the way) and kept trying to get me back together with this girl (who I never once saw in the dream, by the way). Or the one I had 2 nights ago where my neighbour S. was lonely and her mother kept trying to set her up with me and I kept having to explain to her mother that S. isn’t gay, and I’m just not interested, thank you very much.

So, does this change in my dream life mean the same thing? That I’m finally comfortable being gay? It’s not like I think I was uncomfortable with it before Tuesday night (the night of the first in this dream series), but… well, this is new. Most of my dreams are asexual… usually involving me having some sort of adventure, and the majority of them have me playing the role of hero, which is fun for all concerned (and by that, I mean me).

I actually don’t have an answer to this question. I don’t really feel like my attitude has changed. But maybe it has changed so gradually that I haven’t noticed it. I really don’t know. Anyway, I’m actually writing this post right before bed, so we'll see what happens tonight in my wacky subconscious. Probably nothing significant, probably saving another innocent from a psychopathic 80's television star... or something in that vein anyway. But maybe there will be some sort of lesbian twist. Who knows. It's interesting to me, even though I can't explain it. Regardless, I'm tired now and so I'll find out soon enough.

Friday, November 17, 2006

83. Happy Thanksgiving? Oh... and girls have cooties.

This post is pretty much not relevant to my normal topic. It's another update on the other events in my life.

So, for some inexplicable reason, we celebrated Thanksgiving at school today. Not only is it not a Korean holiday, but... well, Canadian Thanksgiving was over a month ago (and all of the English teachers here are Canadian) and American Thanksgiving is next week. Anyway, it didn't go as badly as we had feared (fear based on experience... usually these sorts of special event days are torture), it was much better than the fiasco I heard happened last year which involved such traditional Thanksgiving fare as quail's eggs (??!?!... someone screwed up their research).

This week has been rather... well, incredible. And I mean that in the literal sense… as in, were I not a witness to the events of this week, I would be incredulous as to the veracity of this blog entry.

Mr. Lee, my boss(normally I would give him some kind of psuedonym, but you can't actually get a more generic name in Korea than Mr. Lee, so I feel no need to hide his identity any further), has been attempting to woo those of us whose contracts end in March (ie: all the female English teachers) to sign on for an extra year. I was the first one to go in for a meeting... and I'm not sure if Mr. Lee understands the principle of 'wooing'. The meeting consisted of him talking to me for an hour, I said about 14 words during the entire meeting. And what did he talk about? Well... He spent about 20 minutes trash-talking the one member of the Korean staff that all of us foreign teachers like and respect... seriously, he blamed all of the problems on her, which is blatantly false, and weird because he knows I like her and consider her a friend. It was bizarre. And... and this was where I got really confused. He spent a significant portion of time telling me that I am good teacher, and he knows that what a school needs is good teachers to build their reputation so he wants me to stay. But then there were these C-3P0 like hand movements and an explanation that went like this: "I like men because we are the same. Sex. You know sex? Sex? We are the same sex. Sex. You know sex?"

I was already a little stunned when he went on to wave his arms rather helplessly and say, "Women... I don't know women. I don't understand women. Women... I don't know... Men I know. Women... no. Women are different. Men are the same. I don’t know women. I like men."

That portion of the conversation actually went on a lot longer than that… but it was a lot of repetition. I left the meeting feeling like that was a bit offensive, and I thought he'd caught on to the fact that I had no intention of signing on for another year because at the end he started throwing out numbers to me as he suddenly realized I hadn't even asked for a raise or anything. But he has no idea. In his subsequent meetings with my other female coworkers he has told them that I will be staying, so I need to clear that up I think.

But it goes on. His next meeting was with A. In A's meeting he expanded on his 'women' issue. Quite a lot. He told her quite clearly that he doesn't like women and that he will never hire another woman. He explained that like his wife, we talk too much and need to be quiet. We need to do what we're told and not complain (I should be clear that we are not the only ones who are unhappy with the situation here, the many unpleasant changes don’t please D. any more than they please “the women”... but I think Mr. Lee just hears actual words when D. speaks, and not the 'mindless ramblings of a woman' that he hears when we speak.) Anyway, after going on about the problems with women for about 30 minutes, he actually expected her to agree to sign on! He was shocked today when she informed him that she wasn't going to.

Oh, but it gets worse. Then he had a meeting with S. in which he was even more direct. He told her that he hates women, and he hates his wife (which sounds shocking, but weirdly enough, he’s said this to us before, so we are all aware of it). He hates the member of the staff that we all like, all of the problems we have with work can be laid at her feet (SO not true), and we (yet again) need to stop talking and just do what we are told. He also reiterated with her that he would never, ever hire a woman again, and that he in fact, only hired me and A. to be friends for her. He also told her that she should have faith in him like people have faith in God. (I think she should have responded that God never promised her extra breaks to get her to sign a contract, and then went did the exact opposite of what he promised by taking most of her breaks away!) He also gave her a 15 minute lecture on how she needs to say "Good morning" very loudly to him in the morning... telling her over and over again, in a stern tone that she was 'very rude'.

Again, I feel the need to say that all of these things were actually said during meetings he held to try and get us to extend our contracts! The funny thing is that D actually went and told him in between his meeting with S. and A. that he needs to stop telling the women how much he hates women... and somehow Mr. Lee interpreted that to mean the he needs to be more clear in telling us about his hatred of women. I’ve lived a lot of places, and I’ve never lived anywhere where I would say that men and women are truly equal… but this sort of thing is just baffling! This is at work! From our boss! While he’s trying to get us to want to stay! It’s like he thinks we need a stern hand and we will be so grateful for his input on how we “need to be quiet” and “not say anything”, just “do what we’re told”. And the thing is, he truly and sincerely does want us to stay. The Hagwan (private academy) business is a very competitive business, and we are all very well liked by the parents, who are the source of the school’s income. The schools that do well are the ones that can maintain a good staff, and Mr. Lee has told me that this year’s staff is pretty much the best he’s ever had as far as quality of work goes, so I don’t really know what his problem is, other than that he doesn’t see us women as real ‘people’.

When I first got here, I went with Mr. Lee and A. to get some documents sorted out, and in the car on the way A. and I got into a rather heavy discussion about Canadian politics. It was a rather academic discussion... not something girly and frivolous... and I remember Mr. Lee making some comment about hens and maids... basically saying that 'women talk a lot about nothing'. I dismissed it then as being a byproduct of him not understanding us. But it has become quite clear that he sees us as 'less than', inferior. Even if he had understood every word we had said, it wouldn’t have mattered. It was only the mindless babblings of silly women. No matter that all of us are well liked by our students and the parents of our students. No matter that we all work hard and our students do well. We are nothing more than annoying chatterboxes to him and we will never be. I find it all so bizarre, not to mention frustrating! I know part of this is cultural... while Korea is very technologically advanced, socially they are about 50 years behind North America. But I really want to believe that Mr. Lee is not representative of all Koreans, I want to think that not all Korean men hate women and think that we have no real worth.

Now, I feel I should say that this doesn't mean I hate it here or anything. I'm just tired of being treated like a lesser person, but I do love my kids and want to see them learn and improve... and I will stay to see them graduate. They are all really precious. And if it wasn't for them, I have to say that I would probably leave. I'm not an aggressive person at all, really, I'm ridiculously laid back. My mother would probably say I'm too laid back. I really have no problem doing what I'm told... but I've discovered that I have a real problem not being respected. I'm good at what I do, and I think I have ideas that are worth listening to.

Oh well. It's Mr. Lee's loss I suppose. Or rather, it will be when I, along with S. and A., go... all at the same time.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you all that... It's been such a weird week. Happy… um… not Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 10, 2006

82. Unintentional humour is the best kind.

So, I should put a disclaimer on this post... or perhaps more of a warning. So here goes.

The following blog post contains adult content. Reader discretion is advised.

Okay, so now that I've done that, I'll tell this little story. It's just a funny thing that happened today in school that I wanted to tell people, but because of the content, I'm a little tentative. But it's so funny I'll do it anyway.

Okay, so this week we've been learning about insects in my kindergarten class. As much as I hate insects (I'm really rather phobic), I always like teaching about them because kids can get really into it. It's icky, it's gross... but a lot of the bugs are cute (ladybugs), beautiful (butterflies), and downright fascinating (fireflies) so it can be totally fun for me too. That having been said, there are some bugs I just hate. Like, a visceral, deep and abiding hatred (rooted in fear, of course... as most hate is). The main one in that category is the cockroach. I hate them so much. And when I was teaching about them to my class, I made sure that they knew that. No real reason why, I just hate them so much that I want to spread the hate around. (Heh, sounds a bit like homophobia or racism, actually... )

Anyway, to get to my story... today I was reviewing the insects with the kids, holding up pictures and flashcards, or describing a certain insect and having them call out what they were. They were really into it, and if you happened to be near my class at that time you would have heard 11 kids yelling loudly, and in unison, things like "Firefly!", or "Ant!". They got most of them right, which was impressive, considering that they are not only 5 years old, but English isn't even their first language. Sometimes they would only remember half of the words though, so for ladybug I would get "Lady!" and have to correct them. So when I got to the cockroach, my only description/question was, "What does teacher hate?" Well, they all knew... but they couldn't quite remember exactly. So, if you happened to be in the vicinity of my classroom, what you would have heard was:

Me: "What does teacher hate?"

Class (at the top of their lungs): "COCK!!!!"

I lost it.

Laughing, tears, convulsions. No idea how long it took for me to regain my composure in order to correct them. And they, of course, had no idea what the joke was. Don't worry, I didnt explain it. I did explain the importance of "roach" to them, though. They get it now. Believe me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

81. The Closet

If you have access to the internet, which you obviously do because you’re reading my blog, chances are you’ve heard about what’s happened with Ted Haggard. And if you aren’t living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard about what happened with Mark Foley. Those two events really aren’t connected, but my reaction to the Ted Haggard thing was to say to myself, “5 kids?? Dude! At least Mark Foley wasn’t married…”

Now, I have no idea about the specific details of their situations… and no one does really – well, except for the parties involved. We know the barebones of the events… the “naughty” emails sent to 16 year olds, the meth buying, the massages from male prostitutes… what is fairly clear to everyone though is that these are two powerful, but closeted men who ended up acting out sexually in some rather poor ways.

I know many people immediately reacted by noting the hypocricy, but I actually didn’t catch on to that at first. My initial reaction was “Okay, how many people is it going to take before they realize that forcing someone to hide their sexuality in a tiny little closet only means that it ends up shooting out in ways that no one wants to deal with?” Oh, it’s not always so public… depression, self loathing, destructive behavior, suicidal thoughts… these are also evident in many a closet-case’s life. At least, they were in mine. You try talking to someone about why you’re depressed and hate yourself when you can’t really tell them why, because that would involve opening the door to that closet which has been dark and dank and has become overgrown with mold and insects and disease… it’s disgusting and smelly in there… (in case you didn’t know, I tend to think in metaphors).

I got an email from a friend who had read my last blog entry, commenting on my openness and vulnerability… I think I was getting a compliment, so I took it that way… until I thought about it a little bit more. What did I reveal in that post? I went on a date (maybe) and it made me feel good. Extra good, maybe, because it was my first real date (maybe), but there wasn’t anything all that intimate that I exposed to the world in that post… She’s right, of course, in that when I talk about those sorts of things, I am talking about something I consider private (at least in Christian circles), but I don’t think it should have to be. One of the things I find so frustrating in my situation is that things that are normal, innocent, and innocuous, these things often become evil and sinister due to the ‘gay factor’.

I’ll give you an imaginary example. I’ll use the movie Ocean’s 11 for this illustration for 2 reasons. First of all, I’ve seen it several times, and with different groups of people… oddly enough, every time I’ve seen it, it’s been with a different group of Christian friends, so the first portion of this conversation is actually an amalgam of several different conversations I remember. Secondly… while I do acknowledge that Julia Roberts is an attractive woman; she doesn’t… um, how to put this… she doesn’t ring my bell, as it were… so if you happen to be one of the people I saw this movie with, or someone who is skeeved out by 'gay stuff', there’s no need for you to be creeped out by this. So, here is my imaginary scenario, picking up as we come out of the theater (or hang around in the living room) after the movie is over:

Friend 1: Well, George Clooney still has it. I’ve loved him ever since ER.

Friend 2: He’s not my type… I’m more into Brad Pitt.

Friend 3: Well, of course… everyone likes Brad Pitt! He’s so hot.

Everyone: *giggle girlishly*

Friend 4: Well, what about Matt Damon? He’s pretty too… who do you like more, Matt Damon or Brad Pitt?

Friend 1: Well, that depends, do you go for boyishly sexy? Or sexily boyish?

Everyone: *giggle girlishly*

Here’s where the conversations becomes entirely fictional.

Me: Actually, I thought Julia Roberts looked good.

Everyone else: *cough*… um…really?... wow.

In my nightmares the conversation would continue:

Friend 1: So, you were feeling lustful feelings towards Julia Roberts during the movie?

Me: What? No! I just thought we were talking about people we found to be attractive…

Friend 2: Were you engaging in sexual fantasy?

Me: No!!! I just think she’s pretty, that’s all. You said you thought Brad Pitt was sexy…

Friend 3: Do you often find yourself lusting after women in the media? Have you thought about maybe disengaging from the mainstream culture? There are so many images you should probably avoid…

Me: I thought we were just talking, and I wanted to participate in the conversation. You guys are my friends, and I want to be able to say what I think… besides, you guys are married, and you’re looking at men who aren’t your husbands. How is that different?

Friend 1: Oh, come on… don’t pretend it’s the same thing.

Me: But… I think it is… isn’t it?

As I said, that is all fake… well, the second half anyway. It never happened because I don’t have the courage to say that sort of thing to my Christian friends, even though I totally think I should be able to. But the only way I believe they would feel comfortable in a conversation with me about a woman I found attractive (or, heaven forbid, sexy even) would be as a ‘confession’. I could come out of Ocean’s 11 and say something like “Guys, I have a confession to make. During that movie I found myself thinking inappropriate thoughts about Julia Roberts, and I thought I should tell you…”, to which my loving and supportive friends would respond lovingly and supportively… probably by offering to pray with me that I find the strength to overcome my weakness… but what is it that I would have done? Thought a woman was pretty? Possibly even sexy? Is that lust? I’ve explored this issue before, so if you’ve read my blog you know I don’t… but if it is, then I have to say that I’ve been a witness to pretty much all of my married friends expressing lustful feelings for people who aren’t their spouse… not that that would excuse my own lustful feelings… I’m just pointing that out. Besides, I simply don’t think it is. I’m gay. I like girls. And as I’ve said before, finding an actual, flesh-and-blood female attractive is a natural symptom of being attracted to females.

Well, I’ve gone on this long, winding path to say that I don’t think it’s right… I don’t think I should have to pretend about who I am. Demanding celibacy is hard enough (if, in fact, that is what is asked of me)… silence is even harder. I don’t think it’s right that the only vehicle I have for expressing my sexuality is guilt and shame. If I want to be honest about this facet of who I am in my everyday conversations… well, I just can’t. Unless I want to spend those conversations feeling wretched and dirty, nobody wants to hear it.

I read an article by Dan Savage recently that talked about this demand for silence and how it related to Mark Foley. I’ll just cut and paste the portion that stood out to me.

“The religious conservatives in the GOP's base don't seriously believe that gay men can become straight. (Wanna stop a straight person from making the ex-gay argument? Ask him if he'd let his daughter marry one.) What they believe in—what they demand—are closeted homos, homos like Mark Foley, a single man who refused to answer direct questions about his sexual orientation. (Has any straight man ever refused to reveal his sexual orientation?) The religious conservatives in the GOP's base want all gays to be like Mark: deny who we are, live our lives alone, refuse to answer any questions about our sexuality. To them, Mark Foley was a good, closeted homo, deserving of every consideration.

The GOP was willing to cover for Foley because Foley, by being closeted, covered for them for years. So what if closet cases act out in sexually inappropriate ways? A few raped altar boys and skeeved-out pages are a price the gay-haters are only too willing to pay if it means fewer out homos.”

Look, I realize I may have stepped over a line in some people’s minds by going on a date (possibly), but there was nothing dirty about it. Nothing that I feel I should have to hide. But I do. And if I’m honest, I’m kinda bitter about that.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

80. A Date... Maybe

So, I was trying to write this blog post when I realized that I’d written a perfectly good account of what I wanted to write about in a letter I just sent off to dear friend, so I’m just going to copy and paste it here. I don’t think she’ll mind, I’m only copying my words so…

I worry you? I know that this is about the gay thing, but I'm curious as to what the worry is about. Is it because of my last blog post... about hanging out with the lesbian group? Did you read that? Or just the gay stuff in general? Either way, I think that when I tell you what I did today it will probably worry the crap out of you. I went on a possible date with a girl I met at the club last weekend. I wasn't sure if it was a date before I went, and now that I've been out and back... well, I'm still not sure, but I kind of think it wasn't. … this past week has been crazy and awesome and new and scary and wonderful and... I've been flying high and giggling and girly and buzzing and trembling and all those things I've watched pretty much every single one of my straight friends go through... I've finally felt it and it kind of sucked because I know that sharing this with some of the people I love the most means that some of them won't talk to me, some of them will react with fear and some of them will react with disgust,,. absolutely none of the Christians I hold most dear will be happy for my happiness. (Heh, I now have a new answer to the 'when did you last cry' question, cause I'm crying right now... of course, I'm kind of laughing too so... does it still count?)

Now I know that I said in that post that I didn't intend on dating anyone... but well... I didn't expect to be asked out. This is entirely my own issue of self esteem and hating my body and all of that shit, but it never occurred to me that anyone would ask me, I figured as long as I didn't ask anyone else out it wouldn't happen. I met her last Saturday at a Halloween party at a lesbian club in Seoul. (heh, I just realized how much of that sentence would sound evil to a fundamentalist -- "Halloween", "party", "Lesbian", "club"... hee, probably even "Saturday") We danced together for pretty much 4 hours straight... she's actually pretty much the only Korean I've ever danced with who hasn't tried to press herself against me in a way that A) yes, I enjoy but B)freaks me right out. Anyway, we exchanged email addresses and had been MSNing (wow, that's an actual verb now...witness the evolution of the English language!) back and forth all week. We'd talked about getting together for a language exchange (she teaches me Korean, I teach her English) so... like I said, I'm still not sure if this was a date, and I kind of think it wasn't... but I'm honestly not sure. Either way, I don't really care. I had this week of feeling all girly and giggly, and really quite aware and alive and I'm glad... plus I learned some new Korean words today.

Anyway, I'm telling you all of this not expecting to change your mind or make you approve... because, quite frankly, I know you won't. But because I'm sick and tired of only being half of who I am with people. Damn it, I'm crying again.