Daily Archives: February 16, 2010

Paruresis — It’s real and it’s affecting at least one American everyday (that would be me)

From Wikipedia:

Paruresis also known as pee shyness, shy kidney, bashful bladder, stage fright, urinophobia or shy bladder syndrome is a type of social anxiety disorder, that can affect both men and women, in which the sufferer is unable to urinate in the (real or imaginary) presence of others, such as in a public restroom.

Paruresis goes beyond simple shyness, embarrassment, or desire for privacy in that it is much more severe and may cause unnecessary inconvenience, because the inability to urinate, although psychological in origin, is physical in its effect, and not under the control of the sufferer. Paruresis can be mild, moderate or severe. In mild cases, paruresis is an occasional event, like a form of subconscious performance anxiety. Some may find that they are unable to urinate while in moving vehicles. In severe cases, a person with paruresis can urinate only when alone at home.

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First written Jan. 2008, revised Feb. 16, 2010.

I’m standing in the middle of a random bathroom in a random downtown Seoul building. The bathroom is immaculate. Despite the hygienic appearance, there is an awful odor of rotten eggs and dookie. Sky blue tiles cover the floor and walls. There is one sink and two empty urinals. The only stall is taken by an elderly Korean man. He is grunting and mumbling in Korean, trying with all his might to have a bowel movement. As I stand outside the stall waiting for him, I picture him clutching a tall glass of orange-flavored Metamucil, praying to Buddha for sweet relief.

I suppose I could use the urinal. I could be in and out in 30 seconds, long before the old man emerges from the poopoo cave. Despite the apparent benefits, I can’t force myself to use the urinal. I approach the left one slowly, fingering my zipper nervously. “Just do it,” I tell myself, “just pee.” My brains says do it, but my body resists.

As I wait for the colonically congested old geezer, I take a moment to reflect on my unreasonable fear. Where did it come from? When did it first manifest itself?

I’ve been peeing free for years. Continue reading

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The Cast of Characters

Occurred August 2007, Written Sept. 2007, Revised Feb. 16, 2010.

In August 2007, I took a job at a “prestigious” (it was self-proclaimed, never actually proven) private English academy in Seoul.  I had a good feeling about this place.  The salary was extremely high and, unlike previous schools, it had a large number of foreign teachers.

It didn’t take long before I figured out something was wrong.  This school wasn’t all it promised to be.  There was an almost tangible tension floating between different sects of foreign teachers, not to mention Korean management that believed in working you until you bled.

When you travel and live overseas, you’re bound to meet an assortment of odd people and this school was no different.  They include, but are not limited to, the manic depressive, the hyperactive, and the socially repulsive.  Some can be fun and interesting and others need long intensive therapy sessions with strong antidepressants they can suck on like Tic Tacs.

The 20 foreign teachers at my school could be seperated into three categories:  the assholes (the largest constituency), the downtrodden, and the morbidly obese.
Continue reading

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