#MeToo

The newest movement that’s taking hold. So many thoughts that run through my mind about whether this will be successful. The film industry is heavily flawed in it’s overzealous attempt to only present the world with specific looking people – an old image of women and men looking a certain way. They don’t want to get too ethnic, they don’t want women who are over a certain weight – there are some exceptions of course – and they even want men to look a certain way.

Then there’s everything that happens behind the scenes that are starting to come to light – the actions specifically of Harvey Weinstein. Now, it is not just his sexual assault, his rapes, or anything else that he’s done that is coming to light – though it is the main focus of much of the force behind the movement – it is also the incredibly flawed, and disturbing actions of producers, casting agents, and the others who are behind camera, and what they do to actors and what they have actors to do for them. It is disturbing the stories that we are hearing; to say that it is wrong, would be undermining the trauma that some of these people have gone through, and yes they are PEOPLE. We can not say they are anything less than people or anything more, we can not put a money value on the job they are doing and disregard the experience they went through just because of the industry, or what they were paid. It does not make it okay, and it does heal any of the physical or mental trauma that may linger after the events they went through.

The #MeToo movement seems to be allowing women (and men) all around the world, not just in the film and TV industry to speak out about sexual harassment, assault, and what they have been through. It is a serious offense that is typically kept quiet, both in film and TV, and also in our daily lives. Why? Because like rape, women tend to be made out to be the ones who were “asking for it”. This goes for men who are victims of it to, it goes both ways. Women who wore skirts, whose bra straps were showing because they wore a tank top, or who drank too much one night. Regardless of the circumstances, women are never asking for it, and regardless of what we were doing at the time; whether we were completely sober and in sweatpants and a sweater, or posing for a new line of perfume in lingerie; women are never asking to be sexual assaulted or harassed or raped. Neither are men.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I’m going to talk about why I’ve made this post.

I have gone on about the movement, what I think about it, and everything, and I could easily go on and on. I could talk about what specific celebrities have said, such as Jennifer Lawrence, or Anthony Bourdain; but I think that could get repetitive with a lot of the points I’ve already made. So I’m going to bring it onto a more personal level.

For many women it is difficult to face the truth of being sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped, or perhaps all of the above. They have difficulties coming to terms with it, and the trauma of the events can leave lingering effects on them. They can feel desperate, as if they can not talk to anyone about it. It’s not that they don’t have anyone they can trust. It’s that they either feel shame, or embarrassed that it happened, or they feel as though they may look at them the same way they feel; perhaps they might even be disgusted with them. In some cases, it was not a complete stranger, it was someone they knew. When it’s someone you know, it almost feels impossible to open up about it; to tell anyone about what happened, because of what the consequences of what that could be. It could be a few things, perhaps you’re afraid no one will believe you, perhaps you’re afraid that they will believe you and that person will experience sever consequences for their actions. As a victim, you feel so many terrible emotions after the events, and they are rational, but it becomes difficult to follow through on anything, to talk about anything right after.

Of course this all depends on the severity of what happened. Some women can overcome the events easier than others, some can not.

From every woman I have ever spoken to, all of them have been cat called; they have been whistled at, and called after for one reason or another. They didn’t want the attention, they didn’t leave their house or apartment expecting to get the attention, and they were simply walking down the streets. Others have confided in me more traumatic events, from unwanted violent sexual advances, to sexual advances, to rape.

I have been sexually abused, harassed, and raped. I have admitted the last part to a total of one person in my entire life. I had confronted the rapist, and I had said my piece and walked away. The scarring, both physical and mental, lasted years. The mental scarring and trauma, was by far the worse from the experience. Emotionally, it took a long time to come to terms with the events, especially the sexual abuse which lasted for several months. Like many women in abusive relationships (it also included verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and heavy manipulation), I did not realize the severity of it until I was out of the relationship. When I realized what was happening, what was really happening, I was finally able to force myself to come to terms with what happened, and from there I had to find a way to get passed it. It took a long time, but eventually I did. The rape, however, was more scarring than anything else, and that took much longer for me to connect with anyone again, let alone let myself be emotionally available to another person again.

I do not share this story to inspire sympathy. I don’t ask for it, nor do I want it. I share it because every person on this planet, male and female alike, has some kind of dark secret, trauma, buried deep within them that they may be hiding from the world. Each person has dealt with something difficult, some form of sexual harassment, assault, or rape, or all three, and have said nothing to anyone about it (or perhaps you have been lucky and have experienced none of these things). They may seem happy, and perfectly content with their lives. Each of us has been through something, and it’s time for us to stand together and support one another. It’s time for us to fight for a change in the way we treat each other. We need respect. We need boundaries. We need better control over our actions that negatively affect others. We need freedom to wear what we want without feeling as though we’ll receive negative and unwanted attention.

We should stand together and fight for a change, for equality, for fairness, for there to be no further sexual harassment, assault, or rape. We should help each other out, protect one another. We should not pity each other; we shoul not blame the victims of these actions.

#MeToo.

 

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The Changing Times

I always think that I’ve come to manage things better, that I’ve become more optimistic, and that I can see the changing times in a better light. This is true, but not in it’s entirety.

I am currently in a situation where something is going to go either one way or another. If it goes one way, it could mean things will get very stressful; my schedule will change, and I will be taking on a lot more work. If it goes another way, then very little will change for the time being (although a part of me thinks it may still change a bit).

As much as I want it to be the latter, or that the former is really not going to be as bad as I think it will be; I am having trouble coming to terms with it. In my mind, I am seeing the web of manipulation that has brought this person to this point in their lives, and how they now must make a decision that will ultimately effect multiple people, not just themselves. As I think more and more about it, I do not think they even fully understand the repercussions, and the consequences of the decision. However, I do think the person is aware that it is a difficult decision, perhaps not for the same reason I am able to see it for. I come to realize this through how he talks about it, and how my boyfriend discusses the issue with me.

I want to be positive, to try to see things in a better light, but I see the signs. I see how it affected my sleep (or lack there of), and how my boyfriend drank last night to deal with the stress he was under (he typically drinks only on weekends, not on weeknights). Whether he wants to admit to it or not, the decision is effecting him quite a bit, and he too, hopes that our coworker makes the right decision.

I don’t know what will happen, but I know the answer is coming. Perhaps the anxiety is for nothing; perhaps the stress is for nothing. Something tells me, that I know the decision before they walk through the door and tell us. Something tells me, I already know what that answer is going to be, and how things are going to be. Perhaps that desperation is back, and perhaps I have to fight once more. This time, I hope not to break; this time, I hope I can fight longer, and keep the darkness, the demons that engulfed me and dragged so far down into the shadows, at bay, and to their eventual destruction. If it happens, I know it will be different; everything would be different if it happens again. I just need to take the right actions sooner rather than later.

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One Month in South Korea

It has been quite a while since I last updated. There have been many reasons for this; partly because I’ve been having issues with wordpress loading the page to write a blog post, and partly because of the mayhem that has been the last few months.

Over the last few months, I was working a full time job, applying for a visa for a job in South Korea, preparing to move there for 13 months, and getting everything arranged with the school that I would be teaching with. It was a little hectic and very busy.

Once my boyfriend and I got here, it felt as though everything has been non-stop. From the moment we landed, we got on a five hour bus ride to the “small” coastal city of Pohang. From there, we were picked up from the bus terminal by the director. She drove us to our temporary apartment, then took us to the school to meet the other teachers. We had dinner, and then headed back to our temporary apartment. During the weekend, which was the following day, we were out and exploring the city. We met so many other people who were also teaching in Pohang at other schools in those two days. Some were reaching the end of their contract, others were half way through, and a couple were starting their contract just like us.

After that, we started training. The first week almost felt like a blur. There was so much to learn, so much to get a handle on, and so many questions to ask. A week did not feel long enough, and then just like that, it was over. The teachers we were taking over for, were gone. They headed off to do some travelling before heading back home.

We have now been teaching on our for the last few weeks, and it’s been quite the adjustment. I have classes that have taken the transition very well, who work well with my teaching style, and who have willingly adapted to the change, and stay focused during class. And then there are the classes where I have to raise my voice, where I’m telling them to stay on task, to speak English in the classroom, and to stop doing this, and that; where I have to be strict and they consistently test me and force my hand. It has, all in all, been quite the adjustment, and I will be implementing some new rules to my more troublesome classes.

The city itself is quite densely populated. At night, the buildings are lit up with signs on nearly every floor, letting the world know they are still open. Many restaurants in our area are only open until 10-11. Some stay open until midnight. It can be difficult finding a good place to eat when you work until 9:05pm, but it is possible, you just have to know where to go. The restaurants are inexpensive. They serve plenty of food for low prices, and the side dishes are always included. Frequently, they will give you more food for free. Tipping is insulting, and should never be done in Korea. If there is one thing that I will say about most food in Korea, it’s that it’s either spicy or sweet. On the odd occassion it’s neither, and it has different flavours, but the majority of the food is usually one or the other.

Shopping is quite varied and vast. They have large stores that provide you with produce, and any other food you’re looking for. It’s a large chain called E-Mart. They have a second floor full of household items as well, electronics, clothes, make up, bathroom necessities, kitchen supplies etc. It is the place to find a large variety of just about anything you are looking for.

When it comes to clothes, shoes, and anything within that realm of shopping, the variety at E-Mart is a bit more lax. They have a fair bit there, but you can find so much more at a place in downtown Pohang called Stream Street. This is a cobble stone street, with a pretty little stream that runs down the middle of it. There are large stores on either side of it that sell anything and everything. If you are looking for something, Stream Street will have it. They have clothing stores covering several types of fashion, outdoor stores, shoes stores, accessory stores, dollar stores, and so much more. There are even restaurants if you’re feeling hungry, and convenience stores too.

And then there’s the beach. Bukbu beach is quite beautiful. It is definitely the tourist place to be. Along the beach strip is hotels, restaurants, and more. If you’re looking for a North American chain, you’ll like find it there (like McDonalds). The beach itself is quite huge. The sand is warm, and soft in your toes. The ocean spreads out in front of you vast and unending. There’s a view of PosTech which is their steel factory to one side. Further down the beach is a beautiful little temple like place that sits on the ocean. Walking up to the temple is a bridge with small stone pillars. In the temple, you can find benches to sit on and look out on the ocean. At night, there are lights from the temple that go out across it and the ocean. You can get a beautiful view of both the ocean and the light show at PosTech. Near the temple, back on the mainland, are tonnes of food trucks. A particular favourite of mine is the ice cream they serve there.

There are many hiking trails all over Pohang; many of which are marked on a map at the start of them. The trails go through several of the surrounding mountains. Hiking in Korea is like a day walk for many people here; they are used to the hikes and barely break a sweat. My boyfriend and I did one hike of about 2.5km up a mountain, and found ourselves drenched in sweat on a particularly muggy day. When we reached the top, we decided to turn back, finally giving into the heat. We have done a couple trails since then, and the weather has started to cool off a bit now, which will make hiking more comfortable. We are hoping to make it to a temple in the mountain that we’ve heard so much about from other teachers. It seems to be hidden, and we have no clue how to get to it. We’ve been shown it more recently, and I think we will be heading there this weekend (if I can get him out of bed any time soon). The trails are definitely a hike. They are beautiful; full of trees, rocks, and nature. There are few wildlife. There may be a bird, but mostly it is just bugs. The climb is usually quite steep and it does take a bit out of you to make it to the top, even on the easier hiking trails; but it is worth it.

I think this may be a long enough post, so I will leave you all for now. I apologize for my lack of posting, reading of blogs (though I have been reading posts just not everyone, I do apologize for that), and updating more often. Below are some pictures of Bukbu beach, PosTech lit up at night; fireworks on our teacher’s last night in Pohang going off at Bukbu beach, and some of the mountains in South Korea (taken from our bus ride from Incheon to Pohang). They are cell phone quality, and not up to the normal snuff that my pictures usually are. I have some others from my camera but unfortunately, I have not had time to upload them and take a good look at them (soon I hope!).

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A Step Forward

It has been quite a while since I last updated, and quite a while since I was last able to sit down and write. It is, in my opinion, rather unfortunate that I haven’t been able to write lately. I have been both under a lot of stress, and been quite busy to the point of not being able to merely sit down and just write. I am uncertain if over the next few years any of this will change, but I am going to be hopeful that I will be able to get some writing done.

I’ve decided that I’m going to actually say what’s happening. For the next four months I’m going to be working a minimum wage, unskilled labour job in another city. I’ll be moving there with my boyfriend. We have rented an apartment for the summer, and I’ll be leaving to meet him there in less than a week. It will be an adjustment. I have had a single month to see and say goodbye to my entire life here, and it has been relatively jolting, stressful, and full of far too many tearful goodbyes. I am going to miss my family, my dogs, and my friends, all of whom have supported me, laughed with me, and been there when I’ve needed them most (as I’ve done for them). I am used to the life that I have built here, but it appears to be time to start a new one.

From the new city and the unskilled labour, minimum wage job, my boyfriend and I will then be moving overseas and travelling to South Korea. Yes, we are well aware of everything that is going on in the news right now. We know the risks, we are aware of the conflicts and how far back it dates, we are aware of the locations of the military and naval base locations on the peninsula, and we know what’s going on. Ever since we decided to look at South Korea for teaching positions, I had been focusing on the news coverage. I have been well aware of the history of Korea, the war between North and South Korea, how it started, that it ended in a cease fire, and what’s happened since the cease fire, and to where it is now. I’m aware of the tensions between the North and the South, between North Korea and the U.S, and the involvement of Japan and China. So we are well aware of the possible risks we are taking, and the history of it all.

On that note, we are still planning, at this point in time, to go there to teach. We are looking at a small coastal city in the southern part of South Korea. We are in the mids of discussing the contract with our recruiter/school, and finalizing details. We have a few months before we’d leave, so that also gives us time to see how things will play out. If war breaks out, then we don’t go, if it doesn’t and things de-escalate, then great. Either way, we’ll stay on top of it.

Now, it’s a scary, new start. My family is both terrified and uncertain for me. A part of me is very excited at the opportunity for us to be taking this on together. I feel like a lot of what I’ve been through, and this change in my life, has finally given me the chance to really be happy and to feel good about myself. I know my parents don’t want me to go, and I know their concerns. It’s not so much leaving the nest, it’s more the distance. They understand my decisions, both financially, and for education and experience reasons. There are many factors that came into this decision, and it wasn’t, for lack of better phrasing, simply to travel the world with my boyfriend. Luckily, they understand that. I love my family, and I always will, and I could not be happier or luckier to have had such amazing parents and siblings growing up, and to be so close to them as I am now. I’ve been able to tell them this recently too.

Okay, I feel like I’m getting off track and it got very, very personal there. Let’s try to get back on focus.

In light of the travels, and the teaching, and going back to school to upgrade my teaching qualifications, I am going to try to write at the same time (anyone else think I take on too much?). I plan to adjust slightly the way I’m posting. I’ll post when I write (of course), but I think I’m going to also use this to document my travels too. I’ll post about whatever adventures we might have gone on, whether it’s hiking through the mountains, or finding temples, or simply making it to other cities, or marketplaces, or hidden gems of places within the country. It won’t be about the day to day activities of a teacher (don’t worry). I’ll post pictures occasionally as well, as I’ll be bringing my camera with me. I hope to make good use of it, and I’m really quite looking forward to using it, and getting some really good photographs.

I hope that everyone is doing well, that they are continuing with their writing, their lives, meeting their goals one day at a time. We’ll all get there. I wish you all the best of luck, and I will do my best to be more active. I’m sorry for my lack of presence.

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Writing

Today I’m working on a writing lesson plan for an ESL class. The first activity I chose for it is called Free Writing. The idea is that for a predetermined amount of the time, the students write about a specific topic, and keep writing about it, until the time is up. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct, or perfect; the idea is to get students used to writing and to just keep writing.

Of course, I love to write. I absolutely adore writing. The classes we had on teaching writing gave me so many ideas, and all I could think about was writing. Some of the activities we talked about in class even gave me ideas of how to get around writers block, and even exercises that I could do to help expand my vocabulary, and even remind myself of words I do know. Every now and then, I’ll have a moment where I realize just how many great words I know, and I’ll think, why the hell am I not using these words more often? They’re fantastic! I’m thinking of taking advantage of these exercises to not only help my students when I do teach, but to help myself as well.

My life, as it stands, is going to be taking a number of different turns, and where I’ll end up by the end of all the decisions that will be made, I am completely uncertain. Emotionally speaking, I am not sure whether I will be happier by the end of it, or if I will be plummeted into another spiral  of depression in which I will need to pull myself out of once more. I am hoping, of course, for the former.

The one thing that I will hold onto, with every part of my existence, is that I will always be able to write. I will be able to continue with my writing, my characters, and create new stories. I am hoping that the more I write, the more complete the stories will become, the better they will come with each edit and revision. I am hoping that they will one day be published, even if it may be a ways down the road. I know the struggles, and the difficulties that authors have with getting published the first time, but of all the goals in my life, this is one that I will not give up on lightly.

So to everyone who is struggling, who is having a hard time; it doesn’t matter what it is, what you’ve been through, where you have come from, at some point, better things will come to pass, but you must not give up; you must keep going, keep pushing yourself to not give up. At some point you’ll realize you’re not longer surviving, and you’re actually living.

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Writing, writing, writing

Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted, and since I’ve written anything. The last time would’ve been to finish NaNoWriMo and 50,000 words, and I’ve since been unable to find the time. Yesterday though, I spent the better part of the day writing and got a fair bit done. I added in a lot that I think really provides more background, better connection with the characters, and will add more to provide actual depth to what has been going on. Also, this chapter is going to end up being way longer than I anticipated, and right now, that’s a very good thing.

It felt good to get back to writing. While I’m currently living in a different province, I’m back at school, and adjusting to this new routine; I’m glad that it’s not completely different. I’m glad that I can still sit down, when I have the time, and write. There’s been a lot of changes lately in my life and definitely some adjustments, which have all for the most part been good. There are some that I will need more time to take in and manage, but the important part is that I am managing.

It feels like the time is going by very quickly. It’s already nearly been two weeks since I left, and it’s gone by very fast. I knew it would; I knew I’d step off the plane and a week would come and go. The next five weeks are going to feel like that too, especially when I start having classes every day. I guess I should take advantage of my days off now, when I can.

I’ll be back at home in five weeks, and hopefully finishing this all up within a couple of weeks of me getting home. After that, well, we’ll see what happens job wise, and life changes wise. I don’t quite know what to expect yet. Since I’ve left to do this, a number of things have come and changed things, and they have happened very fast.

I hope everyone is having a good start to their new year!

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The Start of 2017

I’d had every intention of writing this post prior to the end of 2017 and then writing the post I’m currently writing on New Years day, however things came up, I got far too busy, and unfortunately I was unable to do the former, and post pone the latter. So here I am now, on January 5th, writing the post I meant to write on January 1st.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful New Years, that if you’ve all made new years resolutions, that you’re off to a great start and that so far this year has been good for you. I know that there have been many things planned this year for me and I am looking forward to them all coming to fruition.

For example, as of Sunday, I will be flying out to complete a program that I had been doing one course at a time online. Starting January 9th, I will be taking the final two courses on campus to complete the class part of the program, and then returning home to do my placement. Once the placement is complete and everything is approved by the program coordinator, then I will be officially done and can finally look for a job in a field I would be happy to start a career in (outside of writing and filming and photography…and…well…yes). There are, regardless, many exciting things to take place this year and I’m looking forward to each one of them.

I plan to continue writing, training, filming, editing (thanks to a number of people who have provided me with software), and photographing. I will update as often as I can and I am going to try to be more present on both my blog and with my followers.

I hope every one has a better year than last, that all things start looking up for everyone and continue to look up; that we all achieve our goals, and work towards everything we’ve set out to do this year both for ourselves, and those around us.

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