Monday, November 20, 2017

THE EPIC SAGA OF THE APARTMENT GESTAPO , PART DEUX

Welcome back, folks. As anticipated, the saga of the Apartment Gestapo continues to provide entertainment to the masses. If you're just joining us, I live with two humans, and one of them believes we need to clean behind the microwave weekly.

On the last episode, I told Apartment Gestapo that doing a weekly deep clean of the entire apartment was unnecessary and unreasonable, considering the fact that one of the rooms is never used, and the other one is fucking immaculately clean all the time. AG responded with a 3-page memo dictating exactly what days we're supposed to clean and pinpointed specific things to "remember" to do. It was maybe the most ridiculous shit I've ever seen.

This weekend I was accosted in the kitchen, because I can't have any peace in my own fucking apartment, and told that I was supposed to clean last weekend but I didn't, so I needed to do it this weekend. I took a quick look at the kitchen, ran my hand over the counter, and made a judgment call that cleaning was not required at this time.

Below are photographs of the area in question. This is exactly what it looked like when I was told to clean it. The images below might be DISTURBING TO SOME VIEWERS if you have any kind of cleanliness-related OCD.
This is the offending area. As you can see, it's filthy. I can barely stand to look at it. You can zoom in if you DARE.

Another view of the room in question. There's a goddamn crumb next to the fridge. I'm a fucking MONSTER to have let this sit there that long!

 This is a wide angle view of the kitchen. It looks like a goddamned murder scene. I should be arrested based on this photo alone.
This one is hard to look at. I mean, there are like 3 crumbs. I can't even believe I can show you such horror.

I have directed your attention to part of the crime scene. I am so embarrassed for you to see this, you'll never think of me as hygienic again.

I know this is hard to look at, but you must. The arrows indicate two stray pieces of uncooked ramen noodles lying carelessly on the stove. What is NOT SHOWN is the OTHER THING that was left on the stove...

THIS PIECE OF FISH. WAS ON. THE STOVE. But who makes fish? Apartment Gestapo! In fact, she made fish LAST NIGHT. So this fish has been there for nearly 24 hours. Likely on purpose to make me clean it up. So there are two ramen crumbs left by Guy Roommate, and then a chunk of day-old fish left by everyone's favorite fascist. So she was upset at how dirty SHE made the stove?

Here is a series of text messages received yesterday by both myself and Guy Roommate. As you will note, it's a pretty one-sided conversation.
10:24am: Novel begins.
Items of note: "can WE clean what WE were supposed to clean last week?"
"FOR THE SAKE OF INTEGRITY"
"small meeting"

Items of note: Oooh, directed at me! "don't forget" lolol
FYI, there was NO food in the drain. I looked.
"last time...I cleaned alone guys" yes, that's correct, because it didn't need to be cleaned, so the reasonable roommates did not think it necessary to clean things that are clean.
"Let's not have a repeat of that" I can't promise that at any given time, even immediately after one of us has undertaken any type of cleaning, that you will be satisfied with the cleanliness because your standards are LIKE A GODDAMNED FANTASY WORLD

Items of note: More use of the word "we" here. Not condescending at all.
"also I didn't clean last weekend!" WE DON'T CARE BECAUSE IT DIDN'T NEED CLEANING.
"next week we are scheduled to clean again" Well, we must do everything by the schedule, mustn't we? It would be completely unreasonable to assess the situation at the time and determine if action was necessary. Or what if I spilled all over the counter on TUESDAY? Should I wait until my cleaning was scheduled?

8:06pm: Almost 10 hours have passed and she obviously had some sort of breakdown because we didn't immediately drop everything and do exactly what she wanted. I'm proud that she was able to hold it in that long. Baby steps.
"I'VE decided that each person must have their own shelf" LOLOL OKAY MEIN FUHRER
"The one with the lesser food is mine" You teach English. There are 3 shelves. Incorrect use of both the word "lesser" and lack of superlative form - "The one with the LEAST food is mine."
"Guess u can throw it out yourselves"  Ohh, full on passive-aggression, nice. And if you would just have resorted to this fucking concept earlier, "guess you can clean up after yourselves," maybe we wouldn't be receiving unsolicited text messages at all hours of the day.
"Coolio" translation: it is entirely NOT coolio.

Then, as I mentioned earlier today, she decided to tell the landlord/our boss that we weren't cleaning. Because that's what adults do. They go cry to their fucking landlord about how their roommates won't go along with their dictatorship and do something because it's "scheduled" (by her, of course). Landlord/boss has not seen our apartment. She just knows what AG has told her, so she assumes we're living in filth. Good thing I took those photos to show how completely fucking ridiculous she is. 

And if you're keeping count, only 5 more days in this prison.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

THINGS I NEVER SAID BEFORE MOVING TO KOREA

- I'm running out of socks.

- I think I'm going to lay down on the floor, it's so warm.

- No cabbage on my toast, please.

- I haven't seen a single trash can in two hours.

- Why am I the only person who needs a napkin in this whole restaurant?

- Mmm, this convenience store fried chicken is delicious.

- There's mustard on my breakfast sandwich.

- Damn, octopus for lunch again.

- I just walked through a park at night and no one tried to rob/rape/murder me.

- Can I get more of the fried chicken flavored chips please?

- This subway smells nice.

- This is the toothbrush my bank gave me for opening an account.

- I'll pick up some new makeup in the subway station when I get there.

- Why is my drink so small?

- Hmm, it looks like I'm going to need to use the MEAT SCISSORS on this piece.

- Where can I get tea that DOESN'T taste like grain?

- Good thing I brought my own toilet paper.


Monday, November 13, 2017

THINGS TEACHERS THINK (OR AT LEAST THIS TEACHER)

I'm sure that there are some other teachers out there that think these things...I hope...

1) I have become aware of exactly how beautifully long even 5 minutes can be. Between my first 4 classes, there are no breaks. Not even enough for me to go to the bathroom. Literally no minutes. So when one of the classes is a few minutes late, I enjoy every lingering second of silence and freedom. Every. Single. One.

Sometimes I wonder if any of my teachers thought this (answer: most definitely yes) - but those precious few seconds I have to myself between :05 and :10 for the last 3 hours of the day ARE MINE AND MINE ALONE.

Don't you DARE come in early. This is my private quiet time where I can be an adult for 5 minutes and have a goddamned Ding Dong because I haven't eaten for hours. If you so much as BREATHE in the direction of the door before that clock hits 10 after, I WILL END YOU.

2) Some of my students are very smart. This doesn't necessarily mean they're super great at English, just that they understand what I'm saying and can follow directions. I love these kids. They are glorious and make me happy. There is a small handful of them (maybe 4) who are dense as a goddamned pile of concrete. These kids frustrate me to no end. We will literally do the exact same thing as we did last week, and the week before, and these kids will act like they have no concept of what is happening.

Most of the kids are middle ground kids, which is perfectly acceptable. But some of them have the attention span of a goldfish - they can remember how to say "ambulance" (WTF, that word is hard!) but they cannot remember to SHUT THEIR DAMN PIE HOLES WHILE I'M TALKING.

Me: Guys, quiet down. Teacher is talking. No talking while teacher is talking.
Kids: Ok teacher... *10 seconds pass*
*talking resumes*
Me: Seriously. If I have to tell you to stop talking again, you won't get a sticker. If you don't get a sticker, then you won't get candy *audible gasp from class* YEAH. So quiet.
*10 seconds later, talking resumes*
Me: *in my head but it feels like I'm yelling it* SWEET MERCIFUL SHIT, IF YOU DON'T SHUT YOUR MOUTHS WITHIN THE NEXT MILLISECOND, I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL KILL ANYONE YOU'VE EVER LOVED

3) The vast majority of the issues come from the kindergarten classes. The older students have their moments, but are generally reasonable and listen to me to a degree I can at least tolerate. The kindergarteners can literally not sit in chairs correctly. They're always turning around, putting their feet on someone else's chair, flailing about like an inflatable tube man at a car dealership. And they TRY. That's the part I can't understand. I see they're genuinely considering listening and obeying me when I tell them to turn around and be quiet. They don't do it to be dicks, they just have some crazy monster inside them that forces them to move AT ALL TIMES.

I have experience with this since I was, yes, once a child. We can have my parents fact-check this if you like, but I KNOW I never had a problem understanding IN ANY LANGUAGE when I was supposed to sit down and shut up. If a teacher told me to do something, I did it, immediately. And yes, this was when I was their age. Yes, I remember. I never talked when I wasn't supposed to. I never randomly got up and walked around. I never yelled. I didn't sit like a fucking gymnast twisted into a pretzel. IT IS REALLY NOT HARD TO FUNCTION AS A CHILD, I KNOW BECAUSE I DID IT.

I don't remember having some giant internal struggle to keep myself quiet and semi-still during class or other quiet times. I'm pretty sure it didn't need to be explained more than once. When an adult is talking, you are quiet. It's pretty fucking simple, yet it's an insane struggle AT LEAST once or twice a week in each class.

4) Sometimes the kids have to do "projects" - quotes are because it's basically drawing or coloring something that we told them to draw or color. There's always one kid who either cannot draw himself out of a paper bag, or one who just doesn't want to do whatever it is we're doing.

A week or so ago, the kids were coloring a project. They were supposed to draw animals. Many (most) of the animals look like they were contaminated with radioactive waste and melted into small blobs of animal parts, but there were a couple of kids who just couldn't do anything. One kid had drawn a few orange penguins and came up and told me "teacher finished!" I look at it and am like "Well, whatever. If you think you're done, you're done." As I was holding the entirely orange drawing, I was told that it "wasn't enough" because if their parents saw that, "they'd be very disappointed."

Well not in me, I didn't draw it. Get mad at your kid for really liking orange. It's not my fault they're completely untalented at drawing. This isn't a drawing class. I'm sure Sally or Elsa or T-Rex is fantastic at some other subject, so art may not be their thing. But no, I was supposed to stand over the child and force them to draw more things. If you're upset that your kid can't draw, shouldn't you take that up with the kid?? I mean the damn kid can remember "ambulance" and pronounce it correctly, why the living hell do you care about a couple of misshapen orange penguins?

5) There's also one kid that's just a straight up sociopath. Like on the pathway to becoming a serial killer. "But how do you know he's a sociopath?" Good question. One I would have asked a mere two months ago. But when you are put face-to-face with a kid that stares into your soul with dead eyes that have no emotion as he does something you explicitly told him not to do, you just know. I'd never met a sociopath before either, but it's one of those "you don't know it till you see it" things. Like he just straight up has no emotions. He doesn't even get mad when I punish him. It's pretty creepy. The whole class I'm just thinking about how I hope to god there are no small animals in his neighborhood.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

WHY I CANNOT LIVE WITH HUMANS, EXHIBIT A

Welcome back to my Korean life. As some of you may know, I have to live in a 3 bedroom until the end of November, which of course comes with two other humans occupying the other rooms. I wasn't particularly worried - I mean, it's temporary and I have successfully lived with other humans on occasion in the past 10 years and successfully maintain a friendly relationship (or required family relationship) with the other occupants. 

This is the story of a not-so-successful roommate relationship. We'll call it "Cleaninggate."

After deciding that 9am on a Saturday was an opportune time to have a roommate meeting because I happened to get up to get some water, girl roommate took it upon herself to WAKE UP guy roommate and tell him that we needed to talk about cleaning. Like straight up just made him get out of bed when he was dead asleep. I felt bad for the poor kid, he was sick like I'd been for weeks, and now he was being dragged out of bed at 9 on a Saturday to be told he's require to clean part of the apartment every week.

The gist was that we split the apartment into 3 zones (I say we, but I really mean "she") - the kitchen, the living room (that NO ONE EVER USES), and the HALLWAY by the bathroom I share with guy roommate. She says we need to rotate cleaning every week. I say that every week is unreasonable, but she insists and I just assume if no one touched it she'll be okay with it remaining as clean as it has been.

I made the  mistake of offering to do the kitchen first, and after scrubbing the sink, counters, and stove as well as taking out the trash, I go back into my room for some TV. I get a knock on my door.

"Did you vacuum the kitchen?"

Of course I didn't fucking vacuum the kitchen, the floor is WOOD. I used a goddamn broom like a normal human.

"Well it's Korea, they vacuum wood." Good for them. I don't. And I'm slightly offended that my thorough sweeping wasn't "good enough," because I actually made an effort which isn't usually my M.O. regarding cleaning.

The next week I was scheduled to do the living room. The living room that NO ONE has sat in the entire week, so there is NOTHING to clean. I took a quick peek and saw nothing that required cleaning, so I went back to my life. 

Later that day... "Don't forget to clean the living room."

"No one used it. There's nothing to clean."

"Yes there is. The floor needs to be vacuumed, and it gets dusty." Again with the vacuuming wood. And how does one week's worth of dust harm you if you don't set foot in that goddamned room?? Also are you my mom? Wait, no. My mom isn't unreasonable and has never asked me to do something that doesn't need to be done.

A day after I didn't clean a room that was already clean, I got a note on my bedroom door about how I needed to clean the clean place. Guy roommate, who had been to the doctor twice in the past week and was on a ton of meds, who had been told to STAY HOME from the school event the day before because he was sick, also got a note on his door to clean the kitchen. ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS WITH THIS SHIT?

For the next week, I avoided any part of the apartment that wasn't my room or the bathroom. I didn't need to see her and be told to clean the living room for the 50th time. I didn't cook a single thing. I got food delivered and ate it in my room with the door closed. I didn't need to be nagged to do something unnecessary.

Last night, being Saturday (designated cleaning day by the apartment emperor), she decided to talk to us about cleaning and how we weren't doing it. I finally said what I needed to say:

We are at school all week. Not one person sits on the couch the entire week. I might go into the kitchen once a day for 10 minutes, and I always clean up after myself. The hallway between my room and guy roommate's room doesn't need to be cleaned, and if it does, that should be up to the people who use the damn hallway (i.e. not you). Once a week for intense deep cleaning is unreasonable. The kitchen is IMMACULATE -
*interrupted*
"The kitchen is so dirty! Look!" *I look around and see spotless counters, no dishes in the sink, and two ramen crumbs on the stove and one on the floor, and am genuinely confused*

I try to explain once more why cleaning up after ourselves means we don't need to bust out the Comet every 7th day.  MAYBE once a month, but that should be determined after seeing how dirty it gets in a month.

"But like no one has ever cleaned behind the microwave! It gets so dusty! And in the microwave!"

WHY THE HELL ARE YOU LOOKING BEHIND THE MICROWAVE? WHO CLEANS BEHIND THE MICROWAVE? You shouldn't even MOVE the microwave unless you're throwing it away or moving it out of the damn apartment!

...and a closed microwave cannot get dusty inside. That's just not a thing that happens. If your microwave has enough exposure to the outside for dust to get in when it's closed, you need a new fucking microwave.

The peace talks ended in somewhat of a stalemate, with the one victory being that our cleaning is now once a month. I am relieved and go to bed.

I go out today to buy a big puffy winter coat, and come home to this:


Please, feel free to zoom in and read the whole thing. I'll wait.

Yep, that's 3 pages of how and when we're supposed to clean. Things that are necessary - 1) taking out trash, 2) cleaning the sink drain (goddamn no garbage disposals in Korea), 3) possibly cleaning the stove depending on how much it's been used/how dirty it is, 4) sweeping (with a BROOM) the wood floor to clean little pieces of stuff that end up on the floor.

Wiping the outside of the cupboards? Are we splashing food on the cupboards now? How messy do you think we are? I'm not making smoothies without a lid on the blender or something, jesus.

Clean the OUTSIDE and inside of the microwave? Has anyone even USED the microwave since I've lived here? I've never heard it being used. Unfortunately for myself, microwave meals are hard to come by in Korea. Also cleaning the windows in the kitchen? Once again, what are we splashing on the windows??

And the schedule going into next year? Uh, nope. The next single apartment is opening up at the end of November, I'll be out of here in a month. And I doubt guy roommate will stay any longer than he has to, which will likely be January. Not sure why you think we'll both be living in the temporary apartment in April...

But yes, a 3 page note telling us exact dates and specifically which nooks and crannies are supposed to be cleaned. Not a group consensus, but what one individual believes is necessary. I don't know who made her Apartment Gestapo, but it sure as hell wasn't by vote. Just one month until I return to solitude and my own place...


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

STRANGE THINGS ARE AFOOT AT THE (CIRCLE K)OREA

Every culture has things that others don't understand, and Korea is no exception. Luckily I have found that squat toilets are relatively rare, unlike mainland China, so no bathroom-related disasters have happened...yet.

But don't worry, their bathrooms aren't devoid of all strangeness. Weird thing number 1: often times there is no toilet paper in the bathroom. However, there IS toilet paper somewhere nearby - perhaps on the wall outside the bathrooms (between the men's and women's), or behind the counter at the cafe. This requires you to have a relatively good idea exactly how much TP you're actually going to need BEFORE you use the bathroom. Certain situations this isn't a problem. Others, well, we've all had those times when we've needed more TP than originally anticipated - which is MUCH EASIER to deal with if you have it right there with you, instead of making that agonizing decision before you have all the facts.

At school there's another small problem. I actually mean literally small. On each floor, there's a girls' and a boys' restroom, usually each containing two stalls. The first day at school I had to use the restroom, and one of the stalls was occupied. I walked in to the open stall and was horrified when I saw that I would have to pee in a tiny, child-sized toilet that was barely a foot off the ground and half as wide as my ass. There was no sign of the other stall becoming available, so I sucked it up and sat down on a comically small toilet, hoping to all that is holy that I wouldn't break a child's toilet on the first day of school.

The other problem was that there was no lock on the door. It closed, but I had no way to keep any random child from flinging the door open at any moment. Picture Will Ferrell in Elf sitting on an elf chair. Now switch that to a toilet, and have him desperately grasping the door handle with one hand, and you have my situation. Luckily the bathroom visit ended without incident, and I got out and washed my hands.

Weird thing number 2: the handwashing facilities are completely inadequate for one reason or another. The options are either a) no soap nor any place for soap to exist, b) soap, but no hand drying implement such as paper towels or a blow dryer, or c) neither soap NOR a hand dryer. I would say the majority of situations fall into category (b). Because not washing your hands is gross and unsanitary, I will often find myself with clean, dripping hands that I have to fling about wildly as I search for a place to dry them, eventually settling on my jeans as a towel replacement. Do Koreans  just wander around with wet hands all day? Or do their hands magically soak up water so that drying is unnecessary?

Another weird thing: THERE ARE NO TRASH CANS. ANYWHERE. EVER. This place is insanely clean. There is never litter or trash thrown about, and you only see a pile of trash on trash day by the curb. Such a clean system must be a result of many trash cans, right? WRONG. I can walk 5-6 blocks and not run past a single trash can the entire way. In a very urban part of the city, where anywhere else in the world there would be trash cans every 100 feet. So I'll get an iced tea, drink it as I walk, then be stuck holding the empty cup FOREVER because I cannot find a single appropriate place to throw it away. Restaurants have no trash cans. Office buildings, none. The gym, also none. Malls, NOPE. WHERE DO THEY PUT THEIR TRASH? WHY AM I THE ONLY PERSON WALKING AROUND HOLDING EMPTY CUPS ALL THE DAMN TIME??? If I die in Korea, I guarantee there will be an empty plastic cup in my hand when I do.

Final weird thing of the day: no napkins. I'm seeing a trend here about inadequate facilities for hand maintenance. When you go to a restaurant, you are lucky if they provide you with one single, small square cocktail napkin. You can't find napkins by the straws and silverware like most places. I keep wondering, do Koreans just not get their hands dirty? EVER? How do you not need to wipe your hands, mouth, chin, whatever while you're eating? How can an entire population NOT BE MESSY?

I got dinner tonight at a big food court in a department store. As I brought my (napkinless) tray to an empty seat, I noticed that all the tables were very clean with no trash or food particles on them. This wouldn't be surprising except for the complete and utter lack of people employed to clean tables. No one was walking around cleaning tables. So basically, Koreans eat ALL KINDS of food, spill nothing on the table or themselves, get nothing on their hands, and somehow leave the table spotless and immaculate WITHOUT THE HELP OF A NAPKIN. I am starting to feel like a giant slobby mess, because I can't eat noodles without getting sauce on my face, or eat certain things without getting something on my hands, or having a tiny crumb fall onto the table. I am the person who gets EXTRA napkins because I'm likely to make more of a mess than normal people, so now I'm super self conscious about eating in public for fear that napkins will not be made available and I'll have to walk out with red sauce all over my chin and curry on my hands.

And just FYI, the next time I went into the bathroom at school I saw that the occupied stall was in fact a full-sized toilet and I didn't need to use the kiddy potty at all... Whoopsie.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

UNORGANIZED BLOG ABOUT KOREA

So hey, what's up? I live in Korea now. I've been here for a whole week and three days. I'm practically a native. Lots of things have happened, but I'm unorganized so it's going to seem like a cat going all nimbly-bimbly from tree to tree.

First things first. My arm itches and therefore this issue is at the forefront of my mind. They have bugs here. Ones that bite you. I don't love this. I spent the last 7 years in a mosquito-free zone, so I'd kind of forgotten the joy that is being a bug buffet. I currently have 5 bites on my right arm, 3 on my left hand, and one ON MY FACE. It looks like a zit BUT IT'S NOT. Ugh.

In the day time I go to school. I teach kids from age 6 to 12. I only want to murder certain ones, which is a giant step for me. To be fair, the other teachers want to murder the same kids, so I'm not alone in my judgment. They're actually pretty cute - cute as in "children don't make me want to flee" but still not cute as in "I want my own." Giving them back is the best part about being a teacher.

One of my favorite things is the kids' English names. Just like when I was Juanita in Spanish class, or Gabrielle in French class, the kids have English names for English class. Their parents gave them the names, which is insanely hilarious. I personally have about 4 Elsas, one Sia, an Olaf and an Elvis. Even though those names are funny, nothing beats calling a 6-year-old Korean kid "Steve" like he's the guy at the watercooler at work.

I don't win the name game, though. My first week when I was watching people's classes, one of the other teachers had a kid who had decided the name his parents chose for English class wasn't going to cut it. The teachers let him pick a new name, and as all good children would when thinking of what they want to be called at school, he named himself "T Rex." This was only made better by the fact that he was acting up that day, so the teacher had to sternly say "T Rex" multiple times and I had to hide my face from laughter. T Rex was only matched by a kid in a different class who found himself in a similar dissatisfaction with his chosen name - but this one named himself Laser. I have to give him some cool points for that one.

Here some answers to questions you might have about the rest of my life in Korea:

- Yes, I do eat kimchi every day.
- I also don't wear shoes for 90% of the day. I found out that the "take off your shoes" thing extends at least to schools, perhaps other workplaces. So I bought a lot of cute socks.
- Koreans don't sweat. I am personally taking it upon myself to represent the sweat of every human in America so they are able to accurately imagine a country full of sweaty assholes.
- They have rain here. It's a thing.
- Yes, there are Korean beauty stores on every block, and yes I have bought many things from them.
- They play kpop in stores and restaurants and I finally feel like I've found people that understand me.
- My students occasionally call me "Kimchi Teacher"
- They also think that I chose a name for myself in Korean, since they have English names, and they keep asking me what my Korean name is. I tell them Kim. This is technically true.

If I raved about the Hong Kong and Singapore subways being beacons of cleanliness and modernity, I must take a step back and admit that HOLY SHIT I AM WRONG and Korea is the cleanest place on the planet. If someone dropped food on the subway, they could definitely pick it up off the ground and eat it - however, this would never happen because they wouldn't dare eat food on their clean subway for fear of soiling it.

My apartment has a hot water switch. This is not intuitive. The first day I stood in the shower for like 10 minutes waiting for the hot water to get to my damn showerhead. It never came, and I took a cold shower. Twice more I have decided to shower, forgotten the hot water switch, gotten completely undressed and into the shower, and just given up and taken a cold shower because that was easier than getting dressed in dirty clothes to walk across the place to turn on hot water I will use for 5 minutes. Yes, I am a nevernude, but currently I also live with two other humans in a three bedroom, so I can't just go running across the place in a towel. I get my own place in a couple of months.

If you'll excuse me, I must go now, because there's an insane thunderstorm and this a super fun new novelty for me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

THE WELL

I live at the bottom of a well. When I think back, I can't remember how long I've been here, or how I got here in the first place. Did I fall in on my own? Was I pushed? Perhaps a little of both?

I have everything I need to physically live here in my well. Food, a warm bed. I'm able to see what's going on outside the well on my computer, but I myself cannot actually leave. There are no ropes or ladders to let me out, and the walls are too tall to climb without tools.

There are people right outside the well. There used to be a lot - I could yell up and someone would come sit on the edge of the well to talk. For a couple of hours, I'd forget I was in the well; I was just talking to my friend, being a normal person. I liked it when people would come to talk. At first I could yell and someone would almost always come, but now people have gone to other places, places where they can't hear me when I yell. If I'm lucky, and I yell loud enough and long enough, someone shows up. But sometimes no one comes at all.

To pass the time, I watch what's happening up there on my computer. I can see my friends and family, I know they're safe and happy. Sometimes I tell them what's going on in the well, just to let them know I'm still here, but living in a well doesn't create great stories or photos like the outside world does. I'd tell them more, but there isn't more to say. "Hey guys, still in the well. I'll see you soon, I hope."

Some people think it's my fault that I can't get out of the well. Regardless of how I got there, they can't see that I need help climbing out. They think I'm not trying hard enough, but that's because they've never seen the well from the inside. They don't understand why I can't simply climb the walls like Spiderman, or how a string of shoelaces tied together is a nice thought, but won't get me anywhere.

More than a couple of times I've been thrown ropes, thick ones with knots to help me climb - I'll get halfway up the wall and the rope will turn to sand, letting me fall back down. Sometimes it takes a few days to get over the pain from the fall. I've gotten almost all the way out a few times, only to have someone let go of the other end, dropping me back to where I started with a bunch of bruises.

Every couple of weeks, the guardian of the well comes to visit. He sits on the edge of the well for 50 minutes, EXACTLY 50 minutes, and we try to figure out new ways of getting me out. When he gets up to leave, I have a little renewed confidence that I can find a way out of the well. Then I go back to watching the outside world on the screen. I look up; it's so high, so far to the top. I look back at the screen, wishing I had that view.

It feels like I've tried everything to climb out. Making cracks in the wall for foot and hand-holds, using pieces of broken rope to make another, being so tired and delirious that I believe for a few hours that a popsicle-stick ladder will hold my weight. And then I have to deal with the people who tell me there's only one way up. If I don't go up this way, I'll never make it. But why can't I try this way? I mean, we're all working towards the same goal here. The fact that I use bedsheets instead of a well-made expensive gym rope shouldn't make a difference - if it gets me out, I'm OUT.

To the people that pass above and look down, I wave. I smile, exchange some small talk. Sometimes I make jokes. The passers-by don't notice how deep the well is. They just notice there's a nice girl who told them a funny story as they walked by. And I keep telling the stories, because I want them to walk by again, and again. They think I'm down here because I like it. They don't know I can't get out.

How long before I can get out? Who's going to throw me a rope that holds my weight until they can grab my hand and pull me the rest of the way out? I'm not asking for an elevator, or to be lifted out in a helicopter. I just want the tools to be able to climb out myself. Why won't anyone loan me their tools?