Friday, August 3, 2012


Ask an Undiscovered 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?

102 Comments / Post A Comment


Oh lady in Korea, you break my heart, but you also sound really driven and excited about most parts of your life, so here's a giant hug and an offer to watch rom-coms with you any time.


Absolutely wonderful.@n


Spider, you are so logical. This comforts me.


@PatatasBravas: I had no idea spiders could be so thoughtful, compassionate and funny.


@laurel And their diet is naturally gluten-free, so they're a natural to deal with LW2's question.


@PatatasBravas This spider has won me over with logic and reason, and also the treaty I have made with spiderkind against the centipedes.


@lil_bobbytables: Kitchendwelling Spiderkind and I have always been at war with Fruitfly Nation.


@PatatasBravas And She is obviously much better at dating than I am. Snipping off their head bulbs, how clever! Oh, the drama this could have saved me!


@laurel Next, on BATTLE OF THE BANDS: Kitchendwelling Spiderkind vs. Fruitlfy Nation!


@PatatasBravas Also, this spider and I could be friends. She could live in my parlor palm and keep the flying multi-legged creatures away.


@lil_bobbytables Spider: How do I tell spiders in my house that they are welcome and that mine is a No-Kill Spider Home, but when they bite me on the face at night, they are in violation of the treaty? Please answer soon.


@Myrtle: This is a very good, important question.




@Megano! Wilbur always did fret about the consequences of going gluten-free.


"How on earth do I spell dermatitis herpetiformis?"


"Ugh I'm going to have to put off my other magnum opus, Wilbur, my legs are aching from all of these acrobatics... Never figured myself for one of those career ladies who ends up freezing eggs, but that's life!"



sarah girl



Also, as far as LDRs go, they can be done. One of my best friends and her bf did exactly what the LW described ("We both decided we should focus on what's good for us and not what we want" is almost verbatim how she explained it to me) when they were going to be working on different sides of the continent.

And then after four months they changes their priorities/minds/whatevers, and they are both much happier in the LDR than they had imagined beforehand. So it can be done, as Spider suggests.

But only if you both want to. Otherwise, maybe re-read a lot of Classic Trash and drink those little alcoholic juiceboxes?


@PatatasBravas Alcoholic juiceboxes??? What is that, I want one right now.


Apparently they are all the rage in Japan and Korea, and some of them have snuck into certain PDX groceries.


@downcomforter It's like a CapriSun that has booze in it - like, a single-serve margarita or something. If you go to your local grocery store and look near the wine coolers, you'll probably find them.


@PatatasBravas I dated an alcoholic juicebox once.


Yay, spiders!! I want Hairpin to always draw attention to things that make folks squeamish and then slowly ease them into being comfortable with such things. Bats are great! Spiders are friends!

The exception is the lowly, horrible mosquito. No one would miss you if you were to go extinct, mosquito. Not a tear would be shed.


@Emby Spiders are friends...as long as they stay outside my house.


@Emby Truer words have never been spoken about the mosquito, said the lady with easily a dozen bites on her right now.

Though I suspect our friendly neighbourhood bats would be sad about the loss of a food source.


@dale Mosquitoes make up only a tiny, tiny fraction of bats' diets. They would not be missed by our bat friends.


@Emby ...maybe that's why I have a problem with swarms in my yard, then. *glares at the bats*


@dale: Lots of birds--swallows and martins, esp.--eat kabillions of mosquitoes too. Your local Audubon or wild bird feed store can tell you which birds to attract with native plants, feeders, birdhouses, birdbaths, etc.

'Sorry about the birdnerd advice.

Emma Peel

Korea-lady! I actually sort of disagree with the spider, but sometimes, no matter how you feel emotionally, if the logic doesn't work, it doesn't work (and sometimes the two things tie together -- 8 more months is not that long for an LDR if it's feasible to reunite at the end of it, and if you can't make that work out that also tells you something about your priorities and how things are likely to go in the future), because life is not actually a Nora Ephron movie, which is both good and bad.

Two bits of advice: pick up a new hobby of some kind, and really lean on your friends, even if they're far away. Could you entice some of them to visit you? Could you plan a trip to see them? Could you meet in the middle somewhere? Having something to get excited about that's non-relationship related is really key.

Finally HUGS. If it's right, it'll find a way. If you feel like you did the right thing, then that's all you need.


@Emma Peel OOOOOH travel might be an excellent idea. If you're friends with other teachers, maybe a weekend jaunt up to Tokyo or the DMZ or something? The LW seems smart and together and adventurous, and traveling with comrades can be a delight. In this case it might be a delightful and educational distraction!


@PatatasBravas "oooohhh, don't go in there, that's the Demilitarized Zone!"

(cannot help but quote Good Morning, Vietnam! when anyone mentions the DMZ)


@stonefruit "we represent the ARVN army the ARVN army...follow the ho chi minh trail!" (


@Emma Peel LW#1 I think the lovely spider missed that you are paying off your student loan debts with the teaching gig. Props to you for getting that off of you so early!
I have a tiny niggling question though, about this guy- can you verify that he is single and available? No dire things you should be aware of that the thrill of OMG THIS might be blocking? Because I love OMG THIS and want you to have it, 100%.

Is It a Hat?

"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."



@Is It a Hat? : Water all over mine! And a side eye to the now- suspicious-looking quinoa salad I was eating.

Is It a Hat?

@mysterygirl haha! I think that was the first legit spit-take I've ever done. The Hairpin is bad for my work reputation!


@Is It a Hat? Seriously, I need to get warnings for things like that. I looked like such a moron suddenly guffawing at the desk.


So I got diagnosed with a gluten issue (celiac) a few years back, but it was right after I'd gone to college so my siblings, dad, & step-mom don't really know quite how to deal with it. At least for me, and it sounds like for the lady above, cross-contamination is a SERIOUS issue. For me, I have to have separate dishes from my boyfriend (we don't have a dishwasher). When I go home for Christmas, GF cookies have to be made before the kitchen gets covered in a fine mist of regular flour.

Of course, it took me a couple years to figure out the extent of this, and so my family can sometimes treat me as a little histrionic when I talk about the elaborate system of knives & plates I've devised to make it so that we can all eat cheese and crackers together.

That said, stay strong. Extreme gluten sensitivity is no joke (& certainly no picnic).


@dorkmuffin My mother-in-law and brother-in-law are MAD celiac, and my grandmother-in-law refuses to believe it's anything more than my MIL being picky and faddish. It's incredibly frustrating and belittling, but my normally-unassertive MIL has stood up for herself and her health. I'm quite proud of her for her "I don't care if you think it's just hysterics, I'm bringing my own non-contaminated cutting board/teflon skillet/non-absorptive glass bowl and preparing all my food with THAT" stance.

At dinners with the other side of the family, we try to let our Celiacs take the first portions of the (safely-prepared) things they can eat which might get contaminated (mashed potatoes with glutened gravy at Christmas, like). I know I would go into a sympathetic seething rage if someone went and dropped the glutened butterknife on my laboriously-produced, expensive GF bread, so perhaps some pre-portioning/putting stuff in cute muffin wrappers might help, if you want to share?

I don't know. I am ignorant, but totally sympathetic.


@VolcanoMouse, that's basically the strategy I take. My boyfriend is INSANELY on top of it. My mom is now on the intolerant side of things (though maybe not celiac) which makes Thanksgiving better. More gluten free stuffing for everyone!


@dorkmuffin Hooray for things getting easier! And gluten-free pie crust is somehow WAY tastier than normal white flour!


@VolcanoMouse My brother's gluten-free girlfriend (GFGF?) is slowly conditioning my parents to accept treats from her. Like, she'll just swing by the house at random with a bunch of chocolate-dipped strawberries she just happened to make. So they're associating her bringing food as a sign of her generosity and kitchen skills.

This seems like an effective way to later step up the kitchen hijacking? (my parents aren't actively denying her dietary needs though, they just aren't as methodical about thinking through the cross-contamination and whatnot)


@PatatasBravas GFGF sounds like a wise woman. Make sure your brother keeps her around.

AJ Sparkles

@dorkmuffin straight up butter & ground almonds/hazelnuts/whatever you have- for cheesecake crust- maybe a pinch of cinnamon, but basically the butter just holds that shit together- yeah, there is nothing to miss there :)


@AJ Sparkles THAT IS MY FAVORITE CHEESECAKE CRUST! The gluten free pantry brand has a great pie crust, dubbed (appropriately enough) "perfect pie crust."

Tragically Ludicrous

I probably wasn't a model at being in a job while waiting to move (when I went and told my boss I was quitting, she said she'd suspected something was up), but yeah, you basically just have to get through it. If you have extra vacation time, sometimes taking it is fun? I took all of the knockout rounds of the World Cup off without any guilt, which was delicious.

sarah girl

@Tragically Ludicrous Although with this, double-check to make sure you don't accrue vacation time over the year - if you do, you won't technically have all the days to burn! I knew a guy who used up his vacation time in February then quit in April, and he had to work free for a week to make up the time.

Tragically Ludicrous

@Sarah H. Yes. Make sure of this. I knew I had enough, and I even got paid back for leftovers. (I really didn't take much the whole time I worked there, mostly because of getting comp days for working tradeshows that I would then turn into 4 or 5 day weekends.)


@Tragically Ludicrous @Sarah H. And the flip side of this is, check to see if your sick leave (if you get it) accrues too, because depending on where you work they may have to pay you for any unused sick leave you have left. Either way the lesson's the same: ask first so you don't get screwed.


The whole time I was reading about the girl in Korea, I'm thinking "hmm, maybe I should do this. Living abroad would be cool & what the fuck else am I doing with my life?" But then. I got shut down by an Undiscovered Spider.

(nobutseriously, good advice!)


@fabel well... I am not an undiscovered spider, but I think teaching abroad because "living abroad would be cool & what the fuck else am I doing with my life?" is a pretty good idea. I did a year abroad and it is hard to talk about it without slipping into cliches, but the short version is: I am SO glad I did it, for both omgsofun reasons and for helpingmegrowintoabetterperson reasons. I would take the spider's advice to mean, "Don't go/stay abroad just because, especially if there is a major reason to be somewhere else [but if it is making/might make you happy, do it]." For me, the money made sense (had just paid off the last of my loans, would have no expenses over there), the timing made sense (lease expiring, pretty burnt out on my job, in good health), the relationship stuff made sense (my guy came with me, and the timing was right for him too) ... with all of that in place, why not go?


LW3, This is your new mantra: This too shall pass. Spend as much time as you can on Pinterest picking out decor for your new digs! Go out for drinks with the people you like! And smugly glower at the people you don't like with your "secret" plan to leave and knowing there will be stuck in that hell-hole forever. Also watch Joe Versus the Volcano, best movie for inciting quitting a job ever.


@redblondehead Ooh, a list! Of course, "Office Space" and "Nine to Five"-- and what else on this theme?

all the bacon and eggs

Perhaps this is unrealistic, but for the LW with the gluten-free diet, can you stay in a hotel sometimes? Then, you could plan activities together that are not necessarily food-centered. It might also ease the tension generally. Both being and having house-guests can be hard.


An Undiscovered Spider's letters reads suspiciousl like Santa's responses to letters at Christmas.


Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus is real... and he has eight legs.

(the better to wrap your presents with?)

fondue with cheddar

DON'T CLICK ON THE LINK. You're horrified and then you realize it wasn't what quite you thought it was and then you're even more horrified.

Jillsy Sloper

"Once every few weeks, for the whole weekend" is too much time at the in-laws. Sign up for some kind of class that takes place on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings so you can get out of it.


@Jillsy Sloper: I mean, seriously. The only way I enjoy the company of anyone in my family is to stay away from them for so long that I actually come to miss them.


@Jillsy Sloper Granted, my in-laws live on the other side of the world, but if I were the LW and had to spend a whole weekend at my in-laws' place every few weeks, I would die. I would just die. The same goes for if I had to spend a whole weekend at my parents' house every few weeks. I would die, or I would maybe fake my own death and start anew in a faraway land.

soul toast

I know! It sounds so awful. If you think about it, a weekend every few weeks or so means that you're basically staying there close to 10% of your time.


dietary stuff + families who love/revolve around food = teh suck. I deal with it with my sugar issues. Recently, Mr. Teenie joined me on the sugar-free bandwagon and that makes it much easier at his family's house because he says it for both of us so I'm no longer getting the suspicious/offended side-eye from his mother and grandmother.


The idea of giving someone grief over what she eats is completely foreign to me. I'm too busy stuffing my own face to even notice what's on anyone else's plate. The only time I'd notice is if they took the last of something I wanted.

soul toast

I think a whole weekend every few weeks adds up to too much time being treated like a child. I'd cut down on MIL visits. If she can learn to respect you as the grown up you are, maybe you can reward her with more visits.
Also, maybe have the in laws come visit you for dinner instead? I've started doing this with my parents and it's done a lot for my sanity and the whole parent/adult-child dynamic.

a small sea

Am I the only one who read about how "half of spiders are undiscovered" and took that to mean something like "for every spider that you see in your house, there is probably another one (it's bestie or partner or mom or whatever) somewhere else nearby but it stays out of view so you never even know that its there unless it crawls down your throat while you are sleeping but then you still really don't know its there and you just worry about eating spiders all night long in your sleep"? Or something like that? Just me? Ok.


@a small sea Not just you. I took "behind every good spider is...another spider" rather literally, too, and then wondered if it meant that the family of the spider I killed in the bathroom on Monday night because it saw me and ran directly at me would sloooooowly start crawling out of the woodwork.


@a small sea No, and now I'm scared. Plus I killed a spider the other day and I feel like maybe the undiscovered spider is plotting revenge.

Yeah. There goes my ability to sleep.


GF writer: if she keeps pushing gluten at you, go into graphic detail of your most recent poop. At the dinner table. She's being inconsiderate, be inconsiderate back. I have no time for people who don't respect others' needs regarding food. If my best friend has wheat, she ends up having to take the next day off to crap her brains out and deal with a fever. If I eat more than one piece of cheese, I don't poop for days. It's just life, roll with it. We aren't doing it to be assholes.


@ipomoea I am impressed by your interpersonal fortitude.


@PatatasBravas I get the feeling that @ipomoea and I could be friends, because I'd be sitting at her dinner table shaking from silent laughter when she used this strategy.

Also, the juxtaposition of your usernames is WILDLY amusing to me. #botanynerd


@Xanthophyllippa Oh I am pretty sure I would follow ipomoea around admiringly and applaud her ripostes!

(but sometimes I am a scaredypotato so I might not be able to use the strategy myself)

POTATOES UNITE! in all of our sweet/spicy varietals!


Definitely do not read the article this posts links to, wonder what a "giant vinegaroon" is, and Google it. Nope. Do NOT do that.

Incidentally, if anyone needs me tonight, I'll be in the corner, rocking back and forth and keening softly.


@Xanthophyllippa For some reason I decided it was a good idea to do exactly what you told us NOT to do and OH GOD WHY DIDN'T I LISTEN TO YOU D: D: D:




@Xanthophyllippa Haha, I definitely googled and went "phew! That wasn't bad." The internet has conditioned me that "don't google it" means either hardcore porn, gore, or (most frequently) both. All else is a relief!

Also: vinegaroons are harmless to people. If you Google the first link is a care sheet for your pet vinegaroon. Damn that is so much better than their usual name "whip scorpion." VINEGAROON. It should be in a children's book.


Teacher Lady in Korea: sending you so much empathy! The spiderly advice you got rocked and I still feel compelled to add my human for what it is worthness: please be so patient with yourself. Your brain and cells and entire being literally hurts when you've had a break up. There are physiological changes that are quantifiable. I think too often people tell themselves to have a time line to get over a break up because it is scary to feel so much pain. Just be really, really caring toward yourself and take such good care of yourself and just have absolute faith that you WILL heal and you will feel better; it will not always hurt like this!

like a rabid squirrel

I have no real comment for LW1 except that I really really relate. I've been in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful person for the better part of the past year and we're about to part ways indefinitely so that he can move further east for his crazy-busy job and I can move to the Midwest for my PhD. Our decision is based on logic and honesty about our tendencies as people, but that doesn't make it less devastatingly painful.

If I were you, I'd indulge in some wallowing, keep up the healthy distracting activities, and the general misery will lessen over time... but if he's still on your mind in 8 months and it's a possibility to reconnect, go for it. I know that if I were looking at 8 months and not 4 years I'd be thinking differently about my whole situation.


Gluten Free Lady: bring the food you need. Act sad that you can't have your MIL's tasty dishes, express that sadness. I'm sorry but she sounds emotionally limited, and I'm hoping the clarity of bringing safe food, expressing true regret you cannot eat her prepared food, but being strong in your having a dietary restriction prescription will cut through some of the stress for you. Another thing to hold in mind: it is really none of your business what she thinks of you, of your dietary need/change. I don't mean that in a harsh way, but in an open hearted way. You can't control what she thinks of you; it has nothing to do with you. : )


@Joey Reading yours, I wondered if there might be an opportunity to align with her by saying, "I am such a fan of your recipes! Let's gather up the ingredients for ____ and see how we can tweak it so I can eat it too! What recipes did you get from your MIL that you made your own?"


@Myrtle Also. one thing she did that you love is raise your husband, because he sounds engaged and supportive. NOT a small thing. <3


@Joey Agreed. I have to eat gluten free - it's not THAT bad, it actually gives me migraines and makes me tired more than any stomach issues (thankfully) but going off of it 5 years ago seriously changed my health and energy for the better and so I stick to it. I also despise being the center of attention or inspiring sympathy ("You can't eat pizza?! Omg....I'd kill myself"). I ALSO come from a super Italian family who does not understand anything but the ways they are set in.

Learn about food as much as you can. Read cookbooks and recipes. Books about living gluten-free are usually written in a pretty cheesy way, but they are also really informative. Not only will this give you the ability to look at a dish of food, or hear its name, and be 90% sure whether it has wheat in it or not, it will help you be a better cook and a healthier eater, if that's what you're into. I used to do this a lot because I was a vegetarian with nut allergies before going GF, and then I just switched my priorities around.

And when people don't understand these allergies, or treat them as folly and act as if you are playing into a fad, explain them. Explain what is in what food, the noticeable differences in your body when you stopped, stories you've heard or read about other people experiencing incredible health benefits. I tell a story I read once that hypothesized celiac disease might come from hundreds of years ago in Ireland, when rival villages would poison one another's crops of wheat to make the people sick, and their children eventually developed an intolerance to it altogether. There's an interesting scientific difference between intolerance and allergy, the latter being when your body mistakes a healthy, harmless substance as poison and releases powerful antibodies to kill it (which just kill you instead), and the former being when you lack an ability to get nutrients out of a certain food. Lactose intolerance usually means you don't create the right enzymes to break down lactose, which is why you can solve it by ingesting those enzymes directly, through Lactaid. Gluten intolerance occurs when the cilia on your stomach walls cannot break down gluten products and absorb nutrients from it, and instead the gluten effectively "flattens" that cilia down, causing a wealth of other issues (like being under or overweight, fatigued, etc.)

Even if people don't get it, you sound like you know what you're talking about. And if you manage to not sound pretentious, they sympathize with you in a better way because they understand where you're coming from a little better. And to make things SUPER easy - travel with a gluten free granola bar and bag of pasta (or contribute your own dish that happens to be gluten-free) when you go places so it's no trouble at all to feed yourself and compliment how nice the host's gluten-full spread looks..or their house, or their lives or whatever. If you seem happy they (hopefully) won't feel guilty for not taking care of you.


@itiresias What a great post! I've saved this offline for reference (poisoning wheat fields? Makes that Potato Famine thing seem ominous!)


Gluten lady, I get the feeling that you didn't really tell your mother in law what's going on with you because you think that she'll be skeptical, but I think that that's the exact wrong way to deal with it. Let her be skeptical, but just tell her exactly what you're doing and what you need. Otherwise she's just going to keep cooking food that you can't eat and her feelings are going to be hurt, and she's going to think that either you hate her food or you're acting like a princess. Tell her that you can't eat gluten anymore for medical reasons, that you need to avoid cross contamination, that you are happy to bring your own bread and treats and you do not mind if everyone else eats gluten-y things around you, and you're happy to help cook (and come armed with your own cutting board etc.). Avoiding the topic and trying to downplay it just isn't going to work, especially if you see them that often, so just be very honest and clear with her about your needs. She'll either learn to deal with it or she won't (and if she won't, that's another letter), but you need to let her learn to deal with it, otherwise she's going to keep making things that you can't eat and both of you will be frustrated.

Pound of Salt

I was JUST wondering this morning whatever happened to Spider!!


I really cannot figure out why Canadian Teacher in Korea and American Boy are better off broken up. I've done long-term long distance with my current boyfriend and I miss him when he is not there...but never seeing him again? how is that a solution?!

is it about creating the opportunity for yourself of meeting someone closer? and what happens to that relationship when you move home to Canada in a year? and then two years down the line your job relocates? or you really want to go live in the rocky mountains(or some other cool place to live)? What about when you have to move back to your home town to care for your dying relative? I agree that you should never let a relationship hold you back in life, but if your life keeps you from having relationships...isn't that just as soul killing in the long run?


HI LW3# Just spitballing here, but- any chance there's something in this massive change you're going to do, that's making you want to target/hit out at your job/life you're leaving? What concessions is fella doing to make this easier for you? You haven't had to share him with the kids on a day to day basis before now, is that right? PS Also, love YEAH! I love that you're willing to risk so much to make this happen.

Lila Fowler

Korea Lady! I am also in Korea and recovering from a Nora Ephron love typhoon. Let's be friends! Are you in the Korean Pinup group?

As for how to get over it, so far my techniques are 1) cutting off contact 2) staying really really really busy 3) going out dancing all the time. When I get really sad, I think about all the other really nice people I know that are also single/have been hit by love typhoons/are still amazing. Good luck to you! 화이팅!

Harley Quinn

@Everyone, I'm the Korea lady. I've been a long time lurker and just registered to say thank you to everyone for the comfort and support. There has been a lot of Romy and Michele, Princess Bride, and Dorito eating around here. Last weekend I went to Korea's island Jeju, and in a week I'm going on a two week vacation to Vietnam, so things are really looking up!

@Lila Fowler, I'm all for friends! I love friends! How do I join the Korean Pinup group?


@Harley Quinn Ugh OK can't figure out hyperlinks but at the top of the page click "Hairpin Meetups" then Ctrl + F Korea, there is a thread about this!

Lila Fowler

@Harley Quinn Yes, do what simalie said! Or join the brand new facebook group

Theresa Borkowski@facebook

Spiders are fun, but where did all the ladies/queer chicks/(unmarried) dudes go?!


@Theresa Borkowski@facebook Bitten by hidden spiders?


Okay, I'm the gluten free lady. Thanks so much for all the helpful ideas and support. I think i exaggerated the number of visits slightly because of recent events (if I go over the past six month to a year, we seem to be visiting less than once a month), so perhaps it shouldn't be that big a deal.

@dorkmuffin is right - it's the cross-contamination that's the killer. And mil has these very solid ideas that many things are gf that aren't (spelt, sourdough bread, etc). And I just can't 'teach' her this stuff if she has no interest. It's complicated enough when you're doing it for yourself; you have to care about it for it to stick.

@PatatasBravas I use that technique to help my dog accept visitors! With the cheesecake crust recipe from @AJ Sparkles I should have it in the bag! (My fil LOVES his food and I think I can get him onside with delicious treats.)

Thanks also for pointing out that maybe the visits ARE too long and numerous. I can just opt out occasionally, but my in-laws are old and I think my partner should see them as often as he can/wants to. To clarify, we go for the weekend because they don't travel anymore and are 150 miles away, so just dinner isn't an option.

@Myrtle Yes. This is one hundred percent true. :-)


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