The very next day.... and the day after that, and the day after that day and so on
Sharon: Not even salmon?
Me: No, not even salmon.
Jovenia: Seaweed is good for you.
Me: Seaweed tastes like fish
A few weeks later.
Me: Well, fish places often ad fish flavor to every side.
Fred: I know, it's it great.
Me: (at the restaurant after countless offers to try it) We'll at least I can say I ate puffer fish.
Everybody: How was it?
Me: It was fish, though to be fair, I can honestly say I had a near death experience.
John: About five people die worldwide every year from eating this fish. Hot dogs are way more dangerous.
Me: Damn it, John, you ruin everything.
Everybody: Also, why are you on the floor. It's time to leave.
(It's customary to eat on the floor, so being there was not the problem. Still being there was.)
Me: Soju. Lots of soju.
I had some old bananas and because of my impending <strike>dislocation</strike> relocation, I decided to made banana nut bread. I'm trying to use stuff up. I don't have any walnuts on hand, but I do have some pecans. I tossed in a pack of banana pudding because hate banana pudding in and of itself. My friends sent it too me from home in case you're wondering.
Anyway, adding pudding to a cake mix will result in a moister cake so I thought I'd try it with the banana bread. I didn't quite have enough flour so I took the trash out and stopped off at the Family Mart on the first floor of my building. They don't have much of a baking section, but I remembered seeing some flour. The single small bag was still gathering dust next to several bags of sugar which were not not dusty. I whooped with joy and grabbed a diet coke from the cooler. I got a bemused look from the cashier at the register.
This was about 10:30. Before bedtime shoppers are usually after beer, ice cream, and chips. There were two Koreans loading up on this goodies as I made my purchase. They too, gave me a bemused look and about ten minutes ago some neighbors stopped to linger outside my door. The scent of fresh banana bread has apparently escaped into the hall.
This might seem counter intuitive to buy more flour when I'm trying to use things up, but I have some pie filling I've been sitting on. It's not easy to come by here and I can't remember exactly where I got it, but I do remember when my shelf had a can of pumpkin, a can cherry and two cans of blueberry pie filling. That was probably two years ago. Anyway, I've one can of blueberry left and now that I'm returning to the land of perpetual pie ( You didn't know that is a nick name for the United States? Well, it is now.) it seems kind of silly that I waited so long to use it.
I'll probably give the pie to my boss, though I'll grab a slice when everybody at work sits down to eat it. The next few weeks they're going to discover some delicious surprises. I wouldn't say I have a lot of special stuff waiting to be cooked, but with only three weeks left, I can probably prepare two special dishes each week. it also means the hall is going to be smelling pretty sweet in the days to come. None of this is import.
Except maybe one thing. The power of smells, particularly smells of fresh backed deserts. My neighbors have not grown up with these scents. They do not recall their grandmother pulling a fresh pie out of the oven on Thanksgiving. They do not have the memory knowledge to distinguish pumpkin pie from apple pie from banana bread. And yet it compelled them nonetheless to linger. It could just be coincidence but I don't think so. In the 18 months I've lived here, not once has any one lingered. To me, that is proof of the power of a smell.
If there was a theme song for your life, what would it be?
What a stupid question.
We go through phases. Our theme songs change. There isn't one for an entire life, or at least there shouldn't be. A month ago my theme song would have been a classic. Something stable. Now that I'm leaving South Korea and everything is in a state of upheaval, maybe half of it is a sad country song about leaving a place you love, but the other half is heavy metal, kiss my %$#@.
Since everything is changing, it seemed like a good time to update the blog thing.
There is a time for everything. For example, the time to eat pie is always.
Not everything is like pie. Take coming and going. They are as unlike pie as mice are unlike elephants.
Living abroad, even with the occasional break, is like living in perpetual mental ward. Life can be very, very good-- there is something about being abroad in and of itself that is like happy gas-- but you still are in another universe where the dots do not quite connect. These are not always specific things. Sometimes it's just a longing for x to be like it is back home.
Scientists have developed a word to describe this complex relationship. It's called homesickness. Most people feel homesick within the first six months of leaving their country of origin. I did not. I did not feel it the first year or the second. At of this has to do with my lack of family relations in the states. But starting with my third year, homesickness slowly took up residence. I didn't even know it was there in the beginning.
There is a time to stay and a time to go. It's hard to know exactly when that time is, but if fear is your biggest obstacle, then the time is now. I am terrified of returning to the United States and the depressed job market that sent me abroad in the first place. But I am so very happy to be going home, a place where there are 500 kinds of cereal even though I only usually buy Raisin Brain and Oat Meal. Mostly, I just want to be confounded by choice.
My co-worker spent last night in intensive care. He is a kind man who has a smile for everyone and geeky sense of humor that I enjoy immensely.
I knew that he was in the hospital due to an auto accident, but as with so many things in Korea, the severity of the situation was lost in translation. He wasn't driving a car. he was walking to work when he lost out on South Korean driver's favorite pastime: whack-a-biped. Though to be clear, if you're on a bicycle you're still eligible to get run over.
If two Koreans travel to (insert the name of every other county but North Korea) the two Koreans will refer to the denizens of that country as weigoogan. This Korean word is equivalent to foreigner but it also means everybody who is not Korean. An extension of this led to my co-workers accident.
No, he was not beaten. He is a Korean man. So how did he become the victim of his own cultural identity? Well, the concept of weigoogan extends even futher. Koreans also have word ( I can't remember it right now, sorry) to describe a social tradition of treating strangers as foreign but also invisible. This worked pretty well for everybody until about thirty years ago when the first roads went up and the first <strike>cars.</strike> motorized missiles appeared.
Now that the country is riddled with concrete arteries and the arteries are clogged with traffic resulting int two national past times: whack-a-biped, as I have mentioned and "how long can you live with getting whacked?"
Crossing any road, regardless of a well marked crosswalk and a light, is dangerous. Koreans are lax about traffic laws and a lot of drivers run red lights. First, imagine the crosswalk as turned green. You look both ways like your mother taught you. There are cars coming but the light is red and they have plenty of time to stop. Plus, you have to cross eventually. Still, you know how it works in Korea so you look to see if there are in other pedestrians. When there are you let them go first.
Today it's only you. You step into the crosswalk glancing at the traffic. In your country of residence the vehicles would slow down or at least swerve. You can see the drivers looking right at you. They don't squint, they aren't texting, you are just invisible and you're in a country where a red light means "only stop if you don't think it will cause an accident." Your heart jumps into your throat as you calculate whether or not you can run fast enough to make it to the sidewalk.
Now, the police will call the accident an accident. The biker, if he was not severely injured as well will get a pat on the wrist, and my gentle kind co-worker is looking to months of recover followed by months of PT. And his future job prospects are charred. Korea is not a kind place to live for those who are not perfect.
If you think you have it hard state side, listen up. South Korea has more people than jobs which has resulted in a very competitive job market. Remember that C you got in middle school algebra? Now imagine if a C could cost you a job? Would that 13 year old you been able to put aside being a kid long enough care about what it would mean when you were 28, 30, 0r 50? When it comes to the good jobs, Koreans can lose out on employment because they go a 99 on test in middle school. Why? There's a deluge of qualified applicants who got 100 down the board.
Remember when you were in high school you skipped class? Imagine if that followed you forever. In Korea high school students stay at school from 7 am to 9 or 10 pm. Classes stop around 4 but the students are expected to stay and study. Skipping school in Korea can be defined as leaving after classes but before study time is over. Sick days also go on your permanent record and you could lose a job because you took one and your classmates didn't. This is why Korean parents push their kids so hard.
But even with grades equivalent to a 4.5 their children might not get a job because of the way they look. Minor plastic surgery, specially a procedure to the eyes (Honest to God, I can't tell the difference after the surgery.) and mole and freckle removal, are commonly done to give job hunters a leg up.
So we are back to my co-worker.. My boss is kind and will keep his position for him. But if he wants to change jobs and he's the only one who limps into the interview....
There are lots of things I love about Korea, but this has never been one of them. Well to be clear, I mean both the perfection standard and whack-a-biped. With such a tough job market, the perfection standard isn't going to change, but motorbikes on sidewalks. That could be outlawed and it should be. And I'm not just saying that because it's a different way. I've been to Vietnam where motor bikes swarm like locusts.I've stepped into that swarm, albeit the first few times time my heart climbed up my esophagus, and was never in as much danger as I've been in Korea.
South Korea needs to get the bikes off the sidewalks because pedestrians are invisible. Reserve whack-a-biped for the crosswalks.
Warning: I'm feeling reflective!
In life, we are always in transit, phasing from who we were to who we are. Just a minute ago you were someone different and in a minute you'll be different still.
Sometimes there is a thing we want to return to-- perhaps because we promised ourselves we wold-- only to discover you cannot go back.
For me this has been the cello. Middle school was hell and my home life was a fast sinking ship that ended in foster care. I found refuge in the school orchestra. I was lucky because the school kept donated instruments for poor kids could borrow. This meant anyone could play. This meant I could play.
Despite having loner instruments, I was a rare bird from a different class of people. The loners were most often used by the kids who had forgotten their violin, viola, bass or cello at home. Many of the kids had been playing since they were four or five. None had picked up an instrument for the first time in middle school.
The music teacher was clear that I was at a deficit with no experience and no money for private instruction. She wasn't not trying to dissuade me, but rather prepare for the reality. I could not expect to up with my peers. I had not met an adult who met the issues head on, did not deny them. These are the facts girl. You need to give up your lunch everyday and practice on the weekends. And even if you practice until your fingers bleed. You can't keep up with the kids and their private instructors.
I was not raised high class, but I came to roost there with books, art, writing, equestrian pursuits and music nonetheless. As with art, music was just something I could do. I was not by any means a savant. I gave up my lunches. I took the cello home on the bus every weekend-- endured the jeers this brought.
Picture a chubby girl with a wondering eye who always wore sweat pants and ugly second hand snake skin glasses because her mother had decided to fight the status quo with bad taste. Picture her on any bus with any group of middle school age children.
I might have well hung a sign around my neck that read: Please tease the shit out of me.
Perhaps it was watching me try so hard, always coming up a little short, but I worked my way into my music teacher's heart. Soon, she too was giving up her lunches to give me the private instruction I could not afford. When at 14, I transitioned from living with my mother to living in the home of strangers, I had the cello. And I would have kept the cello. But high school came there were no instruments to borrow. And then I was at a different high school with no orchestra. (To my foster mother's relief. She knew had to deal with drugs and criminal behavior, but not an okay cellist/aspire equestrian/avid reader/artist. I've never been one to follow the crowd, what can I say.) So, I joined choir.
In orchestra, when one of the kids, but particular this one boy, set about making fun, I pick up my bow and play until my heart danced with music. Because I made my heart dance, the music wasn't bad. But again, no savant. Yet this boy and the others were silenced by not bad because it was so unexpected.
I could not achieve not bad in choir because I was just plain old bad. The old adage, practice makes perfect, isn't always true. Practice only made me a bad singer who had practiced.
Fast forward some fifteen years, and I finally bought myself a cello. It was a rocky start but, to the surprise of my Korean instructor, I was not bad. Over the course of six months I progressed from Suzuki book one to book four and that's where things stalled.
Whenever I listen to classical music I get an itch to play,but this and passion are two different things. I have had my cello for nearly three years and aside from those first few months, I rarely play it. Twice in the last year in fact. So I put it up for sale because it is a cumbersome object for one with no roots and In six months, I'm going to spread my wings.
I'm not coordinated enough to fly so lets say I'll plummet into the next phase of my life. With an international job, and perhaps after some stateside time, more international work, such a large object as a cello presents nothing but obstacles and unnecessary relocating expenses.
For numerous and logical reasons, parting with the large musical instrument I don't play is the right thing to do. Yet our present is inevitably tied to our past by strings. For me the strings are pretty literal. Mostly though, it's breaking the promise I made to the little girl I once was. I promised her that one day I would buy a cello and play until I stopped being little short, that I would play until the bill was paid in full.
Well, I did get a cello, but I don't play and I'm still a little short. I think I just summed up some inexplicable part of life. It's not what I expected, but it's not so bad either.
I started my first fast food job three days before I turned sixteen. When your in high school, fast food's flexible hours are attractive. The work sucks, especially closing the store when all the friers have to be broken down and film of grease scrubbed off the floors with a product called degreaser.
My lot in life kept me in the front of every story I worked out. I was a damned good cashier and I was polite to customers even when it hurt.
As a consequence I've seen people go berserk because their special order burrito or hamburger wasn't perfect. Once customer tried to pull a girl I worked with right through the driver's window. In this case he was rabid over a taco and when she leaned out to take the bag of mistakes back, he grabbed her. She screamed and seven of us dropped what we were doing to come running.
It was late, just before closing and I don't think he realized how many people were working. Seeing it happen taught me a lesson about leaning out of the window too far. Don't do it. I also learned how to avoid quick change artists, free food scams, and that customers would orders that weren't theirs. Some would even return shamelessly to the counter for their order.
When I worked at Pals, a strange but delicious regional joint, we had this one customer who always got the wrong order. Her special hamburger was not rocket science and yet every time she ordered it, we managed to screw it up by epic proportion. More often than not, she got a sandwich she hadn't ordered or paid for. She was never belligerent, because we always apologized and gave her the correct food. But one day, she broke. She cursed up a storm about how we never got her order right.
It's unfortunate, but until she threw her fit, she had been just a face in the crowd. I didn't actually believe her as she screamed at me-- customers have been trained to claim this in hopes of free food. I recoiled from the verbal abuse, hollered what I needed and directed her to pull up indicating we'd bring her the food.
Her order was not complicated. What exactly, I don't know. But I remember being shocked when she came back and it still wasn't right. Three tries, and we got it. I've worked joints with crappy management where repeated mistakes but for a well oiled fast food machine, which Pals is, this many screw ups is not ordinary. And whether you believe it or not, accuracy is point of pride for many fast food workers. This is because even when a job sucks, employees can't divorce themselves from the warm glow of a job well done. Management has to be radioactive to create total apathy in the staff.
At Pals there was true pride extending beyond this. The full time staff had not resigned themselves to the fact that life had not let them be whatever they wanted to be but embraced it. Patty could sling burgers like nobodies business. When she wasn't on shift, it took two people to do what could handle all on her lonesome. There was one full time staffer for each position and during peek hours where cars wrapped around the restaurant and spilled into the main street, Pals functioned like a well oiled machine. No matter how long the line was, customers never hesitated to stop.
We couldn't wallow in our repeated mistakes over the woman's order, but because we had pride, we felt it. We snapped at each other to make sure we each did our part and at last we delivered everything correctly. The next time she came through, I remembered her and issued an order to make sure the food was correct.
It wasn't. These happened a few more times before it dawned on me that this was a thing beyond our control. This woman had a lot in life. Every time she ordered food, it would be wrong. It's such a small thing that God, the great creator, fate, whatever couldn't be bother with such. Well, perhaps the powers that be have a whacked sense of humor, but I think everybody has a thing they can't avoid. For me it's crazy neighbors. The joy of my first apartment was marred by the schizophrenic living next door. Actually, he seemed pretty nice and I tried to keep an open mind when he told me about his issue and said I had nothing to worry about because he was on medication. I could not keep my mind open after he showed up, knife in hand, banging at door one night. Suffice to say, I didn't answer the door.
Well, he had a legitimate mental condition. Most of my neighbors since have been sanely nuts. Despite overwhelming evidence, it wasn't until recently that I realize wherever I move, if my I have sane neighbors to start with, they will promptly leave and the crazy folk move in.
This is just a theory of course. I can't prove it's true, but I think, despite free will, people get a parcel. Life's lot means your friend can do x and nobody will say mum and when you do x you get arrested. There are just certain ways things work and don't work for you. Perhaps it's fate keeping us on our path or perhaps the powers that be have a fucked up sense of humor.
So what's your lot in life? Does it frustrate you? Have you made peace with it?
Every day after work Soo Min seated herself on the floor of her small apartment in front of the fan. She was fifty-three and short, with gray hair and a bent back. Getting up and down was something of ordeal and she always sighed with relief to be off her feet. They were scarred feet, marked by old and new blisters earned from walking miles collecting cardboard. She piled her cart high and towed it to the recycling center where she earned twenty thousand won, or a little less than twenty dollars, depending the exchange rate. She would rub out the soreness of her shoulders until her husband came home. Then she'd make a simple dinner of rice and kimchi and they ate in silence.
But in 1990 her husband passed away and it was 1994 now. The world was moving so fast Soo Min could hardly keep up with it. She had been nine years old when Japan attacked Korea and twelve when the war ended. But after the war things were worse in some ways. Yes they were free of Japan, but in three years the country had been stripped down to the last blade of grass. She remember eating roots and walking barefoot because there wasn't enough rubber to make enough shoes for all the people in South Korean. In 1957 Korea had a lower GPD than Ghana. But in 1960 South Korea opened its to the west and in what seemed like a blink of an eye, there came roads, cars, computers, subways, trains, airplanes, jeans and t-shirts, and above all shoes. So many shoes. Sneakers, boots, sandals and heel. They came in book and block, and glitter with little bows.
Sneakers were practical, but Soo Min liked pretty shoes and even though they gave her awful blisters and made her back hurt. Her clothes were faded and threadbare but she wore her pretty shoes with pride. This had become even more true since her husband had died. Her favorite were a red pair of flats with a glittery bow. But as she sat and rubbed at her back, she was thinking about a pair of pink pumps she'd seen at a store while she was collecting. They cost $40,000 won or two whole days of work. But she had rent and utilities to pay, and groceries to buy. It would take her two or three months to set that much aside. By then her red shoes would be falling apart and the pink shoes sold. She knew, of course, that she would find many other pairs of shoes that she liked. And there would be many other pairs of shoes she could not buy.
These were her thoughts when someone knocked on the door. Soo Min heaved herself up and walked bent to answer the door. It was her neighbor.
"You have a phone call. It's your sister."
Soo Min didn't have a phone so her neighbor always took her calls. She thanked her neighbor and slipped on her red shoes before shuffling up the stairs. She wondered what her sister might be calling about. Hyun Bin had married well and lived in one of those tall apartment buildings. Genetics were of huge importance and the marriage had been positively scandalous. Hyun Bin had compromised by for the most part, pretending she didn't have a sister or brother. She didn't kneel or leave offerings at her parent's grave Chuseok, only her husband's. Soon Min didn't mind being forgotten but she drew the line at disrespecting her ancestors.
"Yoboseyo," she said tartly into the receiver.
"I saw you today," Hyun Bin said. "Outside of Shinsegae. You were towing the box cart piled so high I wandered how you could pull it. I saw your red shoes they were cute."
Soo Min smiled. "I love my shoes."
"Yes you do," Hyun Bin agreed. "But I was so embarrassed for my sister to doing such a low job. I forbid you to do it."
"And how should I put food on the table?" Soo Min replied. "Who will pay my rent?"
"Surely you can get a better job," Hyun Bin said.
"It is law that everybody must retire at 50. I’m 53 and this is the only work there is for me."
"No there isn't. I found you a job. My husband has been put in charge of hiring for that new American store, Cost-co. You are hired to work in the kitchen."
"Well I don’t want to work there."
"It pays 12,000 won--"
"I make 20,000 a day now." Soo Min cut her sister off.
"An hour," Hyun Bin said dryly. " That's 96,000 won a day."
"I can count."Soo Min snapped. But she was thinking of the pink shoes. "When do I start?"
Today was a good day. I've come to believe that we probably spend at least half our lives battling our bad habits. But I up early, had a good breakfast, wrote for about two hours and went for a long walk. I even had a healthy lunch and dinner. This may not seem much of a challenge, in and of itself, but I used to know this girl. We weren't close friends but more than just co-workers. Anyway, she loved vegetables. Loved them to death. For her a salad was ambrosia. For me, ambrosia comes in the form of a Quarter Pounder, well any hamburger... make that anything fried. Consequently, I'm always at war with myself when it comes to eating.
Because I'd done lots of healthy things today and it had not been war to do them, I went to work happy. Because I love my job, I left work even happier. I work in what Koreans call a villa. Villa's can get quite tall, up to six or seven stories. It really seems to mean anything that is not a house and not an apartment building, though most have apartments in them. The build I work in is old which means the exterior is coated with red, clay shingles and we must use space heaters in the winter.
But summer is on it's way. We had to turn on the air con-- this is what air conditioning is called all over Asia. However, by the time I stepped out into the kind of night that always recalls to me those muggy summer nights spent fishing, or at the fair grounds, or just sitting around a camp fire. There was a bite in the air though, enough to need a jacket, but it was humid enough at the same time to make a jacket uncomfortable. I've only experience this kind of night in Korea and I suppose it's like will one day recall my days here.
Earphones in , MP3 set to my "work out" play list, I strode toward my apartment, entertaining catching the bus and going for a second walk down by the river or hopping on the subway and going to Hauendae or Gwanali for a night walk on the beach. The air smelled clean and slightly electric like ozone.
And then I saw the man. From a distance-- I have no depth perception so distance is very difficult for me-- he looked to be in the road. He also looked like he could be a rock. There is construction going on in the area and the way people walked passed him gave me hope that it was just that. But as I drew closer my eyes were better able to define the spaces and then I was there, MP3 blaring in my ears, looking at the man lying in the road. He had fives and tens spread around him from passerby who had felt bad enough to pay for the guilt and kept on going. My happiness dissipated. My good day was not stolen by this event. It's just I don't keep going when I see someone who is hurt or might need help. In America I would ask him what was wrong and if there was any I could call. I would call 911 if he was too disorientated to answer.
Here I don't speak much Korean. I couldn't really help him if he really needed help. I've seen some extreme begging and this form of it, lying with part of their body out into the road seems to be a thing. Not common, exactly, but I've seen it before. .
But even with that possibility, I was reluctant to leave him lying there. He might truly be hurt. Some students were nearby, saw my concern. I was the only adult who had shown any. But just my concern prompted all three of them to try to help him. Korean children wear uniforms and high school students get off at 9pm. It was a bit after 9 so these boys were probably walking home after a grueling day of school . When the crosswalk turned, I realized I wasn't as helpless as I'd thought.
There's a bakery on the corner that I sometimes shop at. I went in. After some gesturing I got him to get up and look. He was able to communicated to me that the police would come in five minutes I lingered, watching the man and watching the boys. I've always had this inclination to protect people. I wanted the boys and the man to be safe. Finally, the boys wandered off. A few seconds later the police arrived. The man jumped to his feet, gathered his money quickly, and bolted. The police officer dashed off in pursuit leaving an empty cruiser sitting on the side of the road, caution lights flashing.
I put my earphones in and headed home. But I still felt bad. I found myself wondering what had made him so desperate to beg this way? Not only is it dangerous but in Korea you are assumed guilty first and must prove your innocence.
I've been on vacation for the past three weeks. I'm an American but I haven't been back to the states for four years. Hence the lack of posts.
I got back just shy of midnight on Wednesday. State side this would be around 11 P.M. Tuesday. Due to a combination of sleep deprivation (insomnia respects time zones not) jet lag and time differences, all of Thursday involved sleep. I tried to get up, I swear. Friday involved unpacking. Today involved lunch with Lana and her friend Daniel. This turned into debauchery at some bars. I wore a pretty black dress with pink flowers, plenty of cleavage as this is one of my assets. Both Lana and Daniel are skinnier than me but as long as the guys are comparing the ladies and not at our waistlines, the I have a leg up on the playing field. The first bar was warm up drinks and meeting up lots of people I didn't know.
Any good debauchery starts with plenty of alcohol. I 'm not a drinker-- my friends laugh at me because, as writer, my drinking habits are pitiful. I like to write with a glass of cold diet coke. Anyway, after two tequila sunrises and Jager Bomb, I ordered a round of Bacardi Rum shots. Not what you expected right? In all fairness I didn't know that Bacardi was rum.
The night was off to a good start and as we wobbled over to the Blue Monkey for more drinks and dancing. The music kind of sucked but I fixed that with a request for Pit Bull and the three of us took to the empty dance floor. I wouldn't call my friends and I trend setters but soon the floor began to fill up and this seemed to put the DJ in the mood for better song choices. Also, I soon had a handsome dance partner. By this time I was also drinking water. I don't drink often but I've discovered significant tolerance. I could have had a few more safely. Probably my family's German genetics. Even so, I've never been much more than buzzed-- why would anyone want to go home puking? Exactly.
So there we were dancing, having a good time.
"Can I come home?" Mr. Handsome asked.
"I want to stay with you tonight."
Look, I'm not coming from some place of moral conduct or religious virtue. But here's the thing about one stands. They suck. This applies to men as well as women. They almost always involved too much alcohol. Drunken sex? Oh, Baby, gotta get me some of that. (Insert eye roll.) But it's more than the guarantee of bad sex.
Are you throw away? Disposable? What about the person you're with? I'm knot talking about the act of sex, but the act of choosing how will are willing to be treated or to treat others. I have friends who have ended up dating their one-nighters, but the relationships never work. Is it no wonder when their very first social contract involved at least one person thinking the other person was disposable. Believe it or not first impression set the tone for how you're willing to be treated. Skinny, fat, short, tall. It doesn't matter. People treat you how you let them treat you. Maybe you're thinking "you don't know what I'm talking about."
The line in Apocalypse, (Midday Musings) about being punched by students in front of the teacher is not entirely fictional. I was picked on relentlessly and it took me the longest time to realize how much of it was actually a result of accepting the way I as being treated. At the time it didn't seem that way.
In case it isn't clear, I'm not really talking about one night stands-- that too, but use it as a metaphor for whatever you like and remember you are not disposable. You are valuable. You're contribution to the world, whether it be telling story, or rescuing dogs, or raising your kids. This is true of parents, spouses. friends, and strangers as well.