Ask an Undiscovered Spider

by A Spider

“Half of Spiders Are Undiscovered.”
— Behind every good spider is … another spider.

Where are you?

Nice try!

Are you big?

[audibly drums legs]

Uh oh.

Haha. No, don’t worry, I am very relaxed.

I am currently in the middle of a second contract teaching English in Korea. At some point last year, my life became an Nora Ephron movie. I met a great guy in a Thai airport between connections. We talked for six hours while shooting back cocktails. I had a gut feeling when I met him. Against the odds, we stayed friends, nursed massive crushes on each other, mailed Christmas packages, and then had a night together when I flew home to surprise my family in Canada for three days. He drove up from the States, a five-hour drive to Toronto, and we felt such a strong connection to each other that we started on an LDR. He’s awesome, but it ended yesterday because of the distance. We both decided we should focus on what’s good for us and not what we want. It was the most adult and communicative discussion I’ve ever had.

I’m alone here for another eight months, and I can’t even curl up with my best friend to cry over popcorn and rom-coms that give false hope about love. Where do you find your strength? I need tips on how to blast through this loneliness. I’m a chronic goal setter and achiever. I stayed a second year in Korea to pay off my student loans, and I’m almost there. I’ve run two 10ks since I’ve been here, I study the language, I read a lot, and then I also have my full time job teaching small children English. I’m doing my best to keep busy, I know I’m astonishingly lucky, but I’m just failing to see what’s good in life right now. Please suggest some tips? General comfort? Or a humorous anecdote?

Ah! My instinct is to say “what you want and what’s good for you are not mutually exclusive in this instance!” Trust your gut! Connections like that are so rare, and if it really is just a logic-based and not emotion-based breakup, undo it!

Why are you teaching English in Korea? If it makes you happy, that is one thing. If it’s something you’re doing because you want to live abroad or you’re not sure what else to do … that is another thing. Maybe it’s all three things, or none of them. I don’t think I have an answer for you, but what I hear through your question is that you found something really special, and you worry that you may have mistakenly given it up. And that maybe you already have your own answer!

But if it really is over, then just keep doing what you’re doing, which sounds great. These things suck! Or so I’m told; I eat the men I date, and feel no remorse. I guess that is also a segue into a humorous anecdote, if you still want one. Last night I was having sex with this guy, and it was going really well, and then I snipped off his head-bulb and laid eggs in it.

On the advice of an endocrinologist, I’ve been gluten-free for just over three months. I’m doing it properly (separate butter, separate cutting boards, etc.). I was worried about missing certain foods, but happily it’s not a big deal.

How do I handle this with my in-laws? We stayed with them last weekend and I brought gluten-free bread and a homemade gluten-free cake (to share) for dessert. My mother-in-law thinks everyone should eat everything and disapproves of food-faddiness (she still doesn’t seem convinced that I’m allergic to shellfish), so I didn’t want to dwell on it and only mentioned it in passing.

It was awkward. She made a big deal about serving her home-grown potatoes, but prepared them (unwittingly I’m sure) in a way that meant I couldn’t eat them, then seemed upset that I hadn’t.

My husband has suggested that we offer to cook next time we visit. This is fine with me (I love to cook! I want to be helpful!), but there is an elaborate and stringent kitchen protocol (plus supervision) that makes it difficult.

The current frequency of visits is about once every few weeks, for the whole weekend. Should I just limit my visits and continue to bring my own food? It is SO AWKWARD. I shrink from her disapproval (and my bowels already refuse to move whenever I stay there).

Ach, the relationship between food and families is such a tricky one. It’s almost like food is a third child/third parent. Or, food can be the language family members use to speak to one another. Did you not finish my ___ because don’t you respect my ___? Oh, you’re leaving? But I made ___; does that mean you’re ___? Why’d you give ___ a ___er helping than ___? (Least interesting mad libs ever?)

Next time you visit, maybe bring a couple batches of tasty, naturally gluten-free things (as opposed to gluten-free substitutes) for sharing (and alert your MIL ahead of time that you’re doing so!), and address it firmly but with a sense of humor: “MIL, I know it might seem ridiculous and fussy, but I’m avoiding gluten on my doctor’s advice. Without getting into the less glamorous … internal details, it’s been pretty helpful for me, so I’m sticking with it. Please don’t make too much fun of me!” And then make sure whatever you bring is just a little less-tasty than her food. Heh. But seriously.

The offer to cook is a great one — is the protocol really so stringent that you can’t prepare anything at all? Meat? Fish? Salad? Or pre-prepared things that you half-make at home and then heat up there? Or would they enjoy being taken out to dinner?

In six months, I am moving to be near a man I have been in a long distance relationship with. He needs to stay near his kids — and of course, I want him to — so I am relocating. He is wonderful, and we’re so excited! In the meantime, I will clean up my resume, save some money, spend time with family, etc. This decision was recently made FOR SURE, we’re informing friends and family that it will be the next step in our relationship, and I’m kind of bursting at the seams for it to happen.

My problem? My job here has amazing benefits, some people I really like, but crappy pay and also some people I really do NOT like. If the copious amounts of vacation time weren’t helpful for our LDR, I would’ve found something else a while ago. I just cannot wait to leave it, and I find myself constantly fantasizing about quitting, like, telling my superiors what I think of them and the department very creatively. Not to mention getting through the days is becoming torture. Wonderful Man has offered to help pay a couple weeks of my rent before moving so that I can quit, exhale in relief, and prepare to move, which is awesome. But it’s still very hard to concentrate on being a decent employee until I get the hell out of there, even knowing I will need the good references. Help???

Hmm. Toughen up and wait it out! I know that sounds a little offhand, but I think that’s what you should do. You have such a potentially great life chapter coming up, which is understandably frustrating to wait for, but try to savor the anticipation if you can. This type of excitement becomes rarer once you’re living with someone.

And if, as you say, there are some people at work you really like, and it’s been a good job for you in so many ways, treat them well in return and stick with the plan. Six months is not very long. And don’t do any of the creative-quitting — that stuff always backfires. The high road is the fun road! I read somewhere once that it’s never a good idea to speak badly of the places you’ve worked, because it ultimately reflects poorly on you.

Good luck, and I wish you and your partner the best, now and in the months ahead.

An Undiscovered Spider is one of several rotating advice-givers. Do you have any questions?