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Security Pubes

Security Pubes

The summer after I graduated from high school in Costa Rica, I intentionally stopped trimming my pubic hair. Although my boyfriend had broken up with me multiple times months before, we kept magnetically reconnecting throughout my last semester of school. And it was pretty much impossible for us to avoid each other in a school of 150 kids who lived on-campus together. Once we graduated, and I came back to the U.S. without any idea of how I was going to go to college, I wanted to protect myself from a lot of things. Mostly failure and making myself vulnerable to another guy any time soon. Because although it was this intense, emotional connection like I’ve never had before, I was super embarrassed once I allowed myself to stop fucking crying and see that it wasn’t meant to be. So, my protection from doing that again was to not trim my pubes. Unkempt pubes were my security blanket and chastity belt at the same time. No one could get to me through them. And I wouldn’t feel bare without them. I was like Samson from the Bible.

Fuck off, Delilah.

I haven’t written on here in ALMOST TWO YEARS. Sure, I was in grad school and busy with assignments or stressed out about where/if I was going anywhere in life. But, no matter how many times I put this at the top of my to-do list, I could never bring myself to post. I think, like my pube story, it was also to protect myself. No one could criticize my writing if I didn’t write.

But why am I so self conscious of my writing if I just finished a program in journalism?!

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I don’t know, man. The past almost two years have brought so much change to my life.

The positives:

I moved to Chicago, home of Oprah and improv. I started a master’s program at a (supposedly) really good school, and I was actually excited by what I was doing in class. I started dating a really nice guy who didn’t ghost me or give me a letter grade while I was in bed with him. I was excited about the future!

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The negatives:

My grad school program pissed me off a lot of the time. Most of the teachers didn’t teach. They had their favorites (I was never one of them). And I wanted someone to have confidence in me and give me the attention I deserved and took out a bunch of loans for. On top of that, I realized my anxiety had become more depression-like.

I made a decision to go to San Francisco for a quarter, uprooting everything I had in Chicago. (Looking back, I think this was the wrong decision). Once I finished all my classes, I moved back to Chicago and everything’s been a bit messy since then.

Now:

I work at a production company on a TV show. Like, my name will be in the end credits, and I can get an IMDb page. Awesome! The downside: I get paid a daily rate, which is modest to say the least. I have no benefits, and people prefer to send an email or call ON THE PHONE than walk over to my cubicle and talk to me.

My boyfriend and I broke up at the beginning of the year (new year, new you). His perfectly valid reasons were that my sex drive is basically non-existent (thanks, depression!) and I had become an easily irritable blob who just wanted to lay around all day and vent about how lost I felt in life.

So, I feel vulnerable to say the least. I would love to write as a freelancer on the side. In school, I got so excited to find and develop stories ideas. I have all these ideas simmering around my head and in spreadsheets and post-it notes. But, I can’t bring myself to commit and pursue the damn things. I’m tired all the time. I psyche myself out that no one’s going to want to publish the stories I write before I even begin. And, so I’m (metaphorically) growing my pubes out once again to avoid letting myself and the work I produce be vulnerable.

But, this is a step in the right direction! If anyone reads blogs anymore or has an interest in my weird life, I’m back, betches! More to come.

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Jimjil-dongs

Jimjil-dongs

Because my school tells me as little information as they possibly can, I found out that I had a two-day break the week before it happened. So, I stressed myself out because I knew that this was one of the few opportunities I would have to travel somewhere for longer than a weekend. Since my school is private and driven only by money, it has the power to tell me when my vacation days are. I have no say.

I looked for last minute flights somewhere abroad like Japan or Thailand, but there were no good deals remaining. Luckily, my good Judy Nick had me covered. He had the same days off and proposed a trip down to Busan (pronounced Poo-sahn) to stay with his friends. Korea’s second largest city and the fifth busiest seaport in the world (according to Wikipedia), Busan is located on the country’s southeastern coast. Although the city has beaches, the temperatures were not ideal swimsuit weather while we were there unfortunately.

Temps in Fahrenheit unfortunately
Temps in Fahrenheit 🙁

That gives me more time to be up in the gym and work on my fitness (he’s my witness).

Nick and I woke up early Sunday morning to take the four and half hour train ride down to Busan. There is a high-speed train that could have gotten us there in half the time, but it’s twice as expensive. Neither Nick nor I are classy or rich, so we were perfectly fine taking it slow and steady. I surprisingly slept for a good chunk of the ride down. Nick, on the other hand, had been feeling sick, so his train experience wasn’t as relaxing.

Once we arrived in Busan, we made our way to the Seomyeon area where Nick’s friends, Stacy and Rob, live. They took me to see some of the city while Nick stayed home and rested.

We went to Jagalchi Market near the port.

Then we went to Yongdusan Park and the bottom of Busan Tower (because we didn’t want to pay to go up).

courtesy of Stacy Austin

So we went to the rooftop of a nearby mall, which offered great views for free.

courtesy of Stacy Austin
courtesy of Stacy Austin

The weather was perfect for walking around, a nice break from Seoul’s brutal winter. Stacy and Rob were great hosts/guides. Both have been in Korea for a while and are really knowledgeable and involved in the community. Stacy’s all-encompassing personal website is here. Rob’s part of a band called Robsanity. Listen here.

My most memorable experience of this trip was going to my first jimjilbang. A jimjilbang is a public Korean bathhouse. Conan O’Brien even went to one.

Many foreigners get nervous because the JJbang is segregated by gender and you must be completely naked in the bath area. After acclimating to dat Korean gym lyfe in Seoul, I was pretty immune to the fear of being naked in front of other people. I kind of wanted to be naked all the time.

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Beforehand, I did feel a little weird about being naked in front of Nick because he’s a friend. But I didn’t want to go to a jimjilbang by myself at first, so I had to suck it up. We went to Spa Land, which is attached to (allegedly) the biggest department store in the world. After paying 15,000 won (about $12.50) to get in, we went to the locker rooms, got naked, and then headed to the baths.

This is what they look like at Spa Land:

Before getting into the baths, you have to take a shower. Then you just basically lounge around for as long as you want. There are multiple tubs to choose from. They have different water temperatures and some include salt, minerals, or tea. There are also sauna rooms with different levels of heat. The two temperatures at Spa Land were hot (40°C/104°F) and Satan’s ball sack (80°C/176°F). After the baths and saunas, you can also lounge around the common area for both sexes (with clothes on) and buy snacks and enjoy more heated and therapeutic rooms.

My first jimilbang experience was great. It was a super relaxing and fun to just hop around between the different pools and saunas. I even splurged for a scrub where an old man wearing only a pair of shorts and white rain boots wrapped cloths around his arm like a cast and then scrubbed my entire naked body.

I saw a lot of dongs at the jimjilbang (thus the title) and learned a lot about Korean men’s bodies. I would like to complete some further research on this topic before I come to any conclusions (wink wink), but here are my initial findings based on both my JJbang trip and the time I’ve spent in my gym’s locker room:

  1. Koreans don’t typically trim their pubic hair. Like at all. As my sister warned me, they voted for President BUSH. Their body hair isn’t as course as white people’s so rather than curl, it just sticks straight out and forms a bouffant that leads the way when they walk. I’m not judging it. It’s just different than what I’m used to. Especially the gay guys I’ve known who treat their pubes like bonsai trees, ever so carefully shaping and preventing them from growing to their full potential.
  1. I feel more comfortable about my body in front of Korean strangers than other white people. Nick and I were the only foreigners when we arrived. However, while there, two more pink dicks* showed up, and I instantly felt more insecure. I think I compare myself less to Korean people because their bodies are so different than mine. Back in the U.S., I always wonder if other guys are fitter, cuter, or have better skin than me. But with Korean guys, I just know I’ll never be as tan or have the same thick hair (on their heads) as them. So, I guess I’ve realized there’s no point in comparing myself to them. That should be a lesson I take home with me. Stop comparing.
  1. The Korean booty game is strong. I guess I had just assumed that Asian guys were stereotypically short and skinny and that’s about it. But, butts here are so bubbly and not just the buff guys who are always at the gym. Maybe it’s because they walk everywhere. Maybe it’s a magical side effect of eating kimchi all the time. Either way, I am in awe and now insecure about my sad pancake booty.

So thanks to Busan – for new friends and new experiences. I’ll be back when the weather’s warmer and my Korean ass grows in.

 

*One of the white guys had completely shaved his pubes off, which contrasted SO MUCH with the rest of the bushes there.