A History Of Monday

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Wake up around six, read the news even though I should be reading Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer (the purported inspiration of the third and final book in The Korea Trilogy), listen to my friend’s music, pump out a quick blog about Alkibar with a massive disastrous typo in the first paragraph, play with my son, have breakfast, jump in the shower, throw on my suit (carefully choose the blue undershirt for Monday, since last Monday I wore orange), don’t wear a jacket or long underwear because Spring sprang up in this part of Korea last weekend with currents of real warmth flowing through the air like gasps from yawning ovens—kiss wife goodbye, carry my son all the way to daycare (he’s heavy but it keeps my arms from getting too flabby), talking with him about the cars on the road the whole while (“Bye bye…yellow…bus!” he says, these days speaking English to me and Korean to my wife), drop him off at daycare, continue the pleasant walk to work with the view over the river never ceasing to please…

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…sit down in the big office shared by like twenty other professors (of whom only one, a nice new hire, is present), notice that a button is coming loose on my suit, take about an hour to plan the week’s classes, send and resend emails to students, go to class, wear out vocal cords explaining grammar (that night my wife will advise me to use the class microphone), enjoy the “logical question game” wherein students are penalized if they don’t ask logical questions—a real problem in a land where in-class discussions don’t occur until college, if they occur at all (wonder how people can ace multiple-choice English tests without ever expressing themselves in English; the ones who excel at these are the ones who really have nothing to express, struggling to reply in any language when you ask them what they think about something)—finish the class without too many disasters, rush back to the office to devour an apple, teach another class very similar to the first although for whatever reasons these particular students really have to be pushed before they start answering my questions, rush back to the office, gorge myself on homemade lunch (tuna chiggae) while discussing my book with a colleague, talk about the glass ceiling in Korea with some students in the lounge for an hour, one of them is from Milyang, which I find interesting, since after almost four years I’m still not yet quite bored with this place (still feel the thrill of being in Asia while biking along a bridge where motorbikes weave through massive roaring dumptrucks), finish work, walk outside and get a good look at the white city glowing in the afternoon sunlight and the popcorn flowers budding from the tree branches…

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…head over to Goomjang where I left my bike locked up four days ago, it’s still there completely untouched, bike over to daycare in my suit, pick up my son, walk back home with him (it’s a little too chilly to play outside), but then watch as a button pops off my suit and lands on the first floor of our apartment building as we step inside, pick up the button and put it in my pocket, go upstairs, change into normal clothes (get yelled at by my son), head back out again to fix the suit, this time pushing my son in a big gray stroller we got over a year ago for ninety bucks (most Koreans refuse to spend less than a thousand dollars on these special fancy red strollers you see them shoving around Gyeongju’s tourist sites; an obsession with luxury goods is one of the country’s many bizarre idiosyncrasies), go inside Filial Piety Laundry…

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…ask my father-in-law to fix the suit, he does so very quickly and offers to drive us back to our apartment and I try not to accept but he doesn’t care, so we get in the car which doesn’t have a child seat, and when I force my son to sit in my lap under a seatbelt he seriously loses it, I mean I’ve been living with this screamer for over twenty months now but I’ve never seen anything like this before, the kid is flushed red, tears and snot streaming down his face, gaping like a gargoyle, shrieking loudly enough to break glass the whole way back to the apartment—five minutes magically stretched out to five hours, as we try to soothe the boy without success—he continues to wail as I thank my father-in-law for the drive, haul the boy across the street, and then carry him up four flights of stairs, and I have to hold him tightly as he struggles to escape from my grasp, trying to push the door to our place shut after I open it, but once I’m inside none of that matters, he can scream as much as he likes here because it’s only a problem for me when it’s bothering other people, I sit in bed and cover my ears and wait for him to calm down (he isn’t hoarse after twenty to thirty solid minutes of screaming), my wife comes home and says hello and has to teach a ninety-minute class in our apartment’s office to two kids which means that I have to find a way to distract our son for the entirety of that time or else he’ll pound on the locked door and yell at her to come out until she does, we watch Kung Fu Panda 2 for the second time and my appreciation of this film deepens (animation is great, writing is a little lazy), my son is so happy with the movie (clapping and laughing and talking about it with me) that he eats fruits and vegetables for the first time in months, but after an hour he’s bored and back at the office pounding on the door and yelling at my wife to come out and pay attention to him, so I start whipping out every toy I can find, getting his attention with some wooden blocks we haven’t played with in weeks, until at last the lesson is over and the two young kids are gone and we can maybe relax a little, though the boy continues to scream at us as we try to converse, and eventually I just give up and go to bed, reading about two pages of Tropic of Cancer before passing out at around nine and sleeping without waking until five-thirty the next day.

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